Bindu Records presents--presents ...

Gangchenpa: People of the Snowlands

Gangchenpa is Kelsang Chukie Tethong, Namgyal Lhamo Muthaka, and Tobden Gyamtso
It was in Argentina during the shooting of the film "Seven Years in Tibet" that Tibetan Artist Namgyal Lhamo Muthaka and her sister, Kelsang Chukie Tethong met the Amdo singer, Tobden Gyamtso. Hearing each other's music sparked mutual recognition and inspiration, and resulted in the creation of their group. Gangchenpa. Their goal: "to promote and preserve the classical style of Tibetan singing and dancing." None of the artist are able to live in Tibet due to the occupation of their country by China, so they came together to record their music in Paris, France; Hilverson, the Netherlands; and New Delhi, India.

Tobden Gyamtso was born in 1964 in Amdo, in northeastern Tibet. His father was a regional ruler who was imprisoned by the Chinese. From the early age of six, Tobden was a wanderer in Tibet. He learned countless nomad and other songs during his travels, amassing a treasure of centuries-old songs and melodies that had been passed on by oral tradition through generations. Tobden survived by secretly performing the ancient Tibetan legends of Gesar in nomad camps and villages in exchange for shelter.

As a young man, Tobden was able to study law in China where he continued to perform Tibetan and Chinese popular songs. In 1988 he became involved in an anti-China demonstration in Llahsa and was consequently jailed. When finally released, he saw photographs of the Tibetan exiled community in Dharamsala, India and was inspired to join them. It took a month-long trek on foot through the Himalayas and Nepal before he reached Dharamsala. Once there, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama encouraged Tobden to continue his preservation work. He committed himself to the collection and preservation of authentic interpretations and performances of Tibetan Traditional songs.

Namgyal Lhamo was born in 1956 in a small Tibetan village bordering Tibet, Sikkim and Nepal. As an exceptional musical child, Namgyal began studies at the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts, a school founded by His Holiness to preserve, in exile, the cultural traditions of Tibetan music, dance and opera. Namgyal studied, performed and taught at the institute in Dharamsala from 1964 to 1979. She became well versed in the songs and dances of Tibetan opera and folk traditions and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia as a star performer of the Tibetan Opera.

At present, Namgyal resides in the Netherlands, where she actively teaches and performs classical Tibetan songs and dances. She also composes contemporary Tibetan music and collects songs from the elder generation of Tibetans in exile.

Kelsang Chukie Tethong (center) and Namgyal Lhamo
Kelsang Chukie Tethong was born in 1957 in the same village as her sister, Namgyal. It was in the 1960's when the United States withdrew support for the Tibetan resistance against Chinese aggression in Tibet that Chukie and her family fled to Dharamsala, India.

She was only nine years old when she and her sister were recognized for their musical talents and enrolled in the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts. Chukie became a leading member of the Institute's performing troupe and performed extensively for the public. Her classical singing was so popular among the refugee community in India that in the early 1970's she became the first Tibetan singer to record her music. Chukie also broadcast her own weekly program on All India Radio.

Today, Chukie lives in Dharamsala, India where she continues her work, researching the musical heritage of Tibet among the elder Tibetan refugees.

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