U.S. Tibet House Welcomes the Year of the Water Rabbit with 36th Annual Benefit Concert

Last night, Tibet House Us (THUS) performed the 36th annual benefit concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. Throughout the evening, the concert, curated by Philip Glass, explored the beauty, culture, struggle, and future of Tibet, while drawing attention to self-awareness, breathing, and the parallels between Tibet and Ukraine. .

The evening began with six monks dressed in red and yellow and equipped with bells, cymbals and drums and their voices to attract the attention of the crowd. After their chants and a respectful silence in the crowd dispersed, the monks removed their hats and bowed. American Buddhist author and scholar Bob Thurman thanked them and took the stage to share his opening remarks. He reflected on the longevity and importance of the evening before calling for applause for Ukraine’s glory. He also referred to the Buddhist practice of minimizing violence but upholding it for the sake of peace. “Glory to Tibet, it will rise one day,” he shared before walking offstage, making way for the evening’s curator, Glass.

Glass was joined by Alex Grey, Saori Tsukada, and Tenzin Choegyal, who teamed up for “Be The Sky,” a meditative soundscape, in which Glass and Gray played piano, while Tsukada and Choegyal added their raw, candid vocals, through song and storytelling. . The musical introduction set a palpable tone before they shared their thanks with the crowd and Laurie Anderson took the stage.

Anderson was greeted with loud applause, which she quickly steadied for the sake of a sonic mediation she hoped would connect the room. She welcomed audience members to find her inner melody and adjust it to the tone of those next to her until there was a sonic collective; soon the theater was a bit rumbling. She was then joined by Martha Mooke for an exploration of lullabies. “I love the song ‘Twinkle Little Star,’” she reflected; she lowered her voice and concentrated on the second verse of the lullaby, which she called “apocalyptic” in its shifting and seemingly bottomless timbre. “When the blazing sun is gone / When nothing shines above / Then you show your little light / Shine, shine, all night,” she sang.

Next, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter-producer Arooj Aftab took the stage and showed off a bit of stand-up as his guitarist quickly handled some technical difficulties. As he began his song “Saans Lo,” which translates to “breathe,” a pause settled over the crowd as many closed their eyes and looked inward as Aftab’s exquisite and soulful cadence washed over them.

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Following a performance of one song, the evening officially began as the Patti Smith Band took the stage, marking her 28th appearance at the event. They shared that Smith would not be joining the night. However, the band, who would remain onstage and offstage, made sure their spirit was. They then marched off introducing the iconic Jefferson Airplane tune “White Rabbit” in honor of the new year (the year of the water rabbit, which follows the year of the iron tiger). Following their performance, the band shared their appreciation for the event, which introduced them to so many musicians and welcomed the latest addition to the list of musicians they have discovered on stage, Allison Russell.

Russell opened his segment of the performance with a euphonious clarinet piece, aided by the string section. The opening changed to “Fourth Day Prayer,” which then transitioned to an overture. Russell then took the energy up a notch with “Nightflyer.” Between songs, he spoke of unity and freedom, saying, “None above, none below, we are one under this listening sky.”

Choegyal then returned to the stage to perform “Snow Lion”, a song about strength and grace, which emerged through his presence: the song was played with reckless abandon and he held on as the performance built volume and passion.

Then pianist Marc Anthony Thompson took his seat and a spotlight fell on him. He sang “Like a Nurse” and “Letter to Hermione” before a stunning figure emerged from the wings of the stage and slid toward the microphone: Thomson’s face lit up. The figure in question, decked out in a black gown, joined Thompson on “She She Smiles,” her tone gliding over her rendition and her harmonies like a summer morning mist. After introducing his guest as his favorite living composer and daughter, Zsela, the two followed up with a performance of “Place.”

Following the heartwarming performance, boygenius took the stage, marking his first public appearance since 2018. The trio, consisting of Phoebe Bridges, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus, shared a performance of a song released earlier that day, “Not Strong Enough ”, with familiarity, affinity and skill, and they continued to do so while debuting a previously unreleased cut from their forthcoming LP and an ode to Paul Simon titled “Cool About It”.

A brief pause followed, and the stagehands set things up for the Philip Glass Ensemble, who would soon present what sounded like thousands of notes on a single song in masterful fashion. Michael Riesman led the effort as the complex and minimalist arrangement of “Spaceship” unfurled and turned on itself: saxophone, flutes and string section chasing the keys in a sophisticated and erudite style.

Then came The New Order, and Zsela joined them for “Bizarre Love Triangle.” They continued to tap into their rock and roll leanings on “Sex Object.” The English rock band fronted by Bernard Sumner rocked the room like “Shadow Play”, preparing members of the refined masses to prepare for the final act of the evening, Gogol Bordello.

Gogol Bordello’s leader, Eugene Hütz, wasted no time in focusing on the socio-political areas of the evening, recalling the last year that has passed since the Russian government began its invasion of Ukraine. He spoke about the spirit, the strength and the inevitable victory of Ukraine. Then the New York-bred band performed the fight songs “Era of the End of Eras”, “Universes Collide” and “Forces of Victory”, Hütz and his crew moved all over the stage displaying their enduring and everlasting spirit to through unlimited energy. .

The evening came to a close as Hütz, without a pause, towered over the crowd singing “The People Have the Power” as the rest of the company joined for one more moment to connect and inspire change.

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