The 34th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert Virtual Edition 17 Feb 2021

TibetHouse_Announce_1200x1800So once again, I ventured into the virtual world of live streaming. This tempting event was to celebrate the 34th birthday of Tibet House in New York. Unknown to me, there is an event every year to mark the birthday of the opening of Tibet House, largely orchestrated by Philip Glass and often featuring artists who I admire, such as Patti Smith in particular. So, when I read the streaming included Iggy Pop, Philip Glass, Patti Smith and none other than the Dalai Lama himself, I could not resist buying a ticket for virtual attendance.

“Tibet House US was founded at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who at the inauguration in 1987 stated his wish for a long-term cultural institution to ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture, whatever the political destiny of the six million people of Tibet itself.”

dali lama tibet“I feel that Tibetan culture with its unique heritage –born of the efforts of many human beings of good spirit, of its contacts with Mongolian, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Persian culture, and of its natural environment – has developed a kind of energy which is very helpful for cultivating peace of mind and a joyful life. I feel that there is a potential for Tibet to help humanity, and particularly our Eastern neighbour, where millions of young Chinese have lost their spiritual values. In this way, I feel very strongly that Tibetan culture will have a role to play in the future of humanity.” (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

iggy 1 tibetThe show started with a very dark performance by Iggy Pop of the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”. Iggy was staring right at me, his deep rasping voice emanating from his stark, wrinkled face. Quite scary stuff and not what I expected, but a great introduction to the concert.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” (Dylan Thomas, 1951)

This was followed by a musical performance by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson. There were quite a few artists who I did not recognise but each one performed a unique and appropriate contribution to the evening. Jessie Paris Smith, daughter of Patti, performed a solo acoustic “Monster”, followed by the Black Pumas. Then someone more familiar appeared. Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips sang “Flowers of Neptune” from within the familiar bubble, which I have seen him perform from before.

After contributions by Angelique Kidjo and Brittany Howard, the more familiar face of Annie Lennox appeared at the piano singing a short set of “You Placed a Chill In My Heart”, “Cold” and finishing with the Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again”.

After several further offerings, Eddie Vedder, performed Pearl Jam’s “Can’t Keep” on ukulele.

tibet alan and philWe were then treated to a video from a previous concert; of Philip Glass accompanying the legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Stunning stuff, which brought back memories of when Laura, David, Shauna and I travelled to Edinburgh Playhouse and were lucky enough to see Patti Smith perform an evening of Allen Ginsberg poetry, again accompanied by Philip Glass on piano.

Philip Glass is, of course, widely recognised as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He is one of the fathers of minimalism, although he often rejects this title. His striking repetitive style has influenced many important popular music artists, including David Bowie, and he regularly, to this day, provides accompaniment to poetry readings by artists such as Patti Smith.

Alan Ginsberg was a seminal figure in the “beat” movement, promoting, through his poetry, anti-war messages, the counterculture, sexual freedom and Eastern religion. I have a vague memory of him appearing at Morden Tower, Newcastle University in the 1970s, and for some reason, I did not go along; something I regret to this day.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke to us, marking the importance of Tibet House and its significance to culture and religion.tibet patti

The evening concluded with Patti Smith and her daughter, accompanied by Joan Baez and many more of the performers, singing very appropriately “People Have the Power”.

Not quite what I expected, but nonetheless an enjoyable event.

 

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