May 31, 2009

Describing my most recent project...

What are your thoughts on effective cultural preservation?

The Kha Lu folk song repertoire of northern Nepal’s Lo region has been at the cusp of extinction; the aging Tashi Tsering, the Official Singer of the Royal Court of Lo’s capital city, Lo Monthang, is the sole preservator of this oral tradition.  In Spring 2009, by request of King Jigme Bista of Lo and with sponsorship by Cambridge University’s World Oral Literature Project, The Sager Family Foundation, and other private donors, Tashi Tsering, Karma Wangyal Gurung (a Mustangi cultural activist) and I spent a month in the highly restricted Lo region recording, transcribing and translating over fifty ancient Kha Lu songs.  Continuing project goals seek to refine Bhodi and Roman transcriptions and English translations of Kha Lulyrics, to digitally archive the lyrics and recordings, to circulate the collected material throughout the Lo community, and to publish a multilingual songbook and audio recording of select Kha Lu songs in partnership with Mera Publications, a Kathmandu-based, culturally-focused publishing house. Young Lo Monthang-based scholars will provide Nepali translations of the Kha Lu repertoire and a European-trained restorative artist from Lo Monthang has already begun to contribute original artwork to the songbook.  The project hopes to rekindle the Lo Monthang youth’s involvement with traditional culture, and to enable artistic preservation and cultural reinterpretation.  

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