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<-Back to WTN Archives Singer and dancer of Tibet - Look Who's Coming: Techung, Tibetan musician
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

5. Singer and dancer of Tibet - Look Who's Coming: Techung, Tibetan musician

News Observer
16 August 2005

By MATT EHLERS, Staff Writer

Tashi Dhondup Sharzur makes his living singing the songs and dancing the dances of Tibet. But he
never lived there.

He grew up in Dharamsala, India, where his parents settled after leaving Tibet in the wake of the
1949 Chinese invasion. Techung -- the name he uses as a solo artist-- has gone on to travel the
world sharing the songs of Tibet, and his music has been included in several movies, including the
IMAX documentary "Everest."

Techung will appear on Saturday in Raleigh for a performance that includes traditional Tibetan
folk songs as well as some of his own. Describing himself as a contemporary Tibetan folk singer,
Techung focuses his music on the exile and freedom struggle of the Tibetan people. And in case you
were wondering, "Techung" is his childhood nickname. Essentially, it means "Tashi Jr."

Techung, 43, spoke from San Francisco, where he has lived almost 17 years.

Q - How did you get involved with the arts as a child?

A - It was kind of an accident. I think that during the time that my parents were relocating, they
came from Tibet, and they didn't know exactly what to do. They were sending their kids to school
for education, and they just sent me to the performing arts school, which sort of became my home.

Q - What did you learn?

A - It's more like a family thing. In the West, when you say "performing arts," it sounds very
professional, a big thing. In India, it was more like a family kind of school, where there are
elders teaching the younger (students) how to dance and sing. We tried to make some plays. It was
sort of like a community theater group, plus dance group, plus learning place, plus a place to
preserve traditional arts and music.

Q - So growing up in school you learned a little bit of everything?

A - Yeah, basically all aspects of performing arts -- the Tibetan music traditions and singing and
opera and regional dances. That kind of stuff.

Q - How did you decide to concentrate on music?

A - When I was in India, when you do operas, you need 20 people. When you do dance groups, you
need at least 7, 8, 9 people. Organizing things can be very difficult. As an individual with
instruments, it's more, how do you say -- appropriate, easy -- for me to get out and keep doing

Q - Why is it important to carry on with the traditional Tibetan music?

A - The first thing, it just touches my heart. There's something about it that I can't really
explain. But when I play those instruments, it just makes me feel, even though I never lived in
Tibet, like home. It's important for me, in terms of setting some kind of step for the younger
generation. Because in India, the U.S.A., everywhere the Tibetans go, it's a really giant place, a
huge country. It's very easy to immerse.

Q - You play traditional Tibetan instruments?

A - Yes, I do. I play the string instrument called the dranyen. It's a lute. And I sing and I play
another instrument called the piwang. The piwang is a bowed instrument, more like a violin, a
little bit like a Chinese fiddle. I do a little bit of dancing.

Q - One of your albums is called "Changshay: Traditional Tibetan Drinking Songs Vol. 1." What do
Tibetans drink?

A - We drink something that is like a beer, called chang. It's made from barley. It tastes more
like a saki, actually. That's our favorite drink. You get high up from that, doing the drinking.
And we sing a lot, you know.

Q - What do Tibetans sing about when they drink?

A - Well, the singing doesn't just happen. But people would be in circles, and they would offer it
to the elders. And the songs are about, "Your graciousness being here brightens up all of us and
may you live for a long time," something like that. And let's have a nice drink. It's almost like
wine drinking, where it has some kind of elements of spirituality. It's not just drinking for

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Conference on Tibetan Buddhism in Europe held in Switzerland August 13-14, 2005
  2. East-West wedding (CD)
  3. China plans world's highest airports in Tibet (AP)
  4. Qinghai-Tibet Plateau moves towards northeast (PD)
  5. Singer and dancer of Tibet - Look Who's Coming: Techung, Tibetan musician

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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