The Gyuto Monks of Tibet, whose seminal recordings of their unique overtone chanting have long stoked spiritual and musical imaginations, are once again collaborating with some of the most cutting-edge musicians and producers, with major recordings and appearances imminent.
Currently touring Australia with HH the Dalai Lama, the Gyuto Monks will break away to participate in this year’s Glastonbury Festival, their first visit to the UK since selling out London’s Royal Albert Hall exactly 40 years ago. In addition to creating a sand mandala in the festival’s Green Fields area, the monks will take the stage on June 27th in a performance timed to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tibetan Declaration of Independence.
Said Thupten Phuntsok of the Gyuto Monks’ traveling group, “We are honored to be invited to take part in [Glastonbury], at the spiritual centre of the site.”
The Glastonbury appearance also coincides with the announcement that the monks have inked a deal with Universal Music, the world’s largest record company. These 2011 Grammy nominees, no strangers to working with luminaries on the music scene such as The Grateful Dead and Philip Glass, will have their forthcoming album, “Chants: The Spirit of Tibet,” produced by Youth, bassist for the post-punk rock band Killing Joke, whose production and remix credits include Primal Scream, U2, Paul McCartney, Depeche Mode and The Verve.
And if that weren’t hip enough, the monks’ tracks, augmented by traditional Tibetan instruments, will be treated to remixes by “ambient house” pioneers The Orb in a separate release due out July 8.
Gyuto Monastery is one of two major “tantric colleges” within the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (Gyurme is the other). Specially selected monks who had earned their geshe degree after many years of arduous philosophical study would enter to engage in more esoteric meditation techniques. Gyuto Monastery’s otherworldly, multiphonic chanting was said to have been introduced by Jetsun Kunga Dhondup, who founded the monastery in 1475. Here’s a selection from one of the Gyuto Monks’ recordings…
……and a live collaboration with modern classical performers: