The Courier-Mail - QWeekend
Festival of Tibet spreads the love
Partly online and party live, this year’s event aims to enlighten, enrich and awaken
It’s one of the most enjoyable and uplifting annual cultural events in Brisbane and thankfully the Festival of Tibet is back this year, albeit in a hybrid form. The centrepiece will be a major concert Prayer for Peace – Brisbane Sings for Tibet at the Brisbane
Powerhouse next weekend followed by a number of online events, including a concert by Deva Premal and Miten who have been guests at the festival before. Their concert, On The Wings of Mantra, will feature exquisite sounds, heartfelt songs and mantras for awakening and meditation.
Festival director is Tenzin Choegyal, a former Tibetan refugee and world music star who usually travels the globe performing. He’s a regular guest at the annual Tibet House Benefit Concert in New York and this year he was again on the bill but used Zoom to perform a piece with Philip Glass, regarded by many as the world’s greatest living composer. (The pair have worked together extensively and are close friends)
In Brisbane, Choegyal and friends have been keeping the culture of Tibet alive, not to mention the food. Tibetan dumplings (known as momos) are usually popular at the festival although due to COVID-19 restrictions we don’t know if there will be any this year. Choegyal says the festival is all about keeping Tibet in the public consciousness. He is part of a diaspora of Tibetans who are doing that from outside Tibet while their country remains occupied by the Chinese.
“It’s important to keep the culture alive but also, particularly, the stories of Tibet are important,” Choegyal says. “And at the festival we can tell those stories.”
He says last year’s online festival attracted viewers from Russia, Japan,
Europe, America and elsewhere. “But I think people are getting a little tired of everything being online only.”
Which is why he’s thrilled that this year there will be a major concert at the Brisbane Powerhouse. It will feature Brisbane artists including Choegyal and friends, who form the band Tibet2Timbuk2, Emma Dean, Ben
Ely of Regurgitator fame, Lucinda
Shaw and others. “In fact there will be more artists in this one concert than there usually is in the whole festival,” Choegyal says.
“We are blessed to have so many generous and talented friends of Tibet in Brisbane.”
The concert will be themed around a poignant quote by the
Dalai Lama about looking after the Earth.
This is the 13th Festival of
Tibet and this year the focus is on climate change in Tibet and the impact this has on Asia and the ongoing struggle for human rights in Tibet. All funds raised go to the Tibetan Children’s Village in India to support the education of Tibetan refugee children.
The festival is presented by Choegyal and by pure essential oils company Perfect Potion. The company’s founder and managing director Sal Battaglia is copresenting (with Dr Tsering Thankchoe) an online session entitled Tibetan Medicine for Troubled Times.
Over the years the festival has featured many amazing artists, dignitaries, activists, filmmakers, teachers and community leaders, including leading Tibetan educator Jetsun Pema, who is the Dalai Lama’s sister and Queen of Bhutan.
Choegyal says a live festival is the ideal but admits the pandemic has inspired the festival to reach out through technology.