Tenzin Choegyal returns to Woodford Folk Festival 2018/19.
Since coming to Australia 21 years ago, Tibetan musician and vocalist Tenzin Choegyal has found a spiritual home in the embrace of the Woodford Folk Festival community.
“I have a lot of friends from around Australia and overseas who I only meet at Woodford,” Tenzin says, “so it's like a yearly pilgrimage to meet them, stay in that universe for six days and spend time with my friends and family.”
In previous years, Tenzin has been responsible for bringing the Tibetan monks of Nepal to Woodford as well as co-ordinating a number of Tibetan cultural activities and workshops. This year, the festival will also welcome three Kopan nuns from Tibet who will tutor guests in the ancient art of sand mandalas.
Tenzin will also be performing with his ensemble Tibet2Timbuk2, showcasing material from the new album, their first in ten years. A devout Buddhist, Tenzin is a disciple of His Holiness (HH) the Dalai Lama. “Wherever I go I try to follow the path that is shown through the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” Tenzin says.
“He is a great inspiration for many, many beings around the globe and for me he is the main teacher I follow. So in my music and in my art I try to take inspiration from his work and share that with a wider audience.”
Tenzin goes on to say that much of what HH Dalai Lama teaches and instructs is in harmony with the overall principles and aims espoused by Woodford Folk Festival.
“Art doesn't have a geographical boundary that the humans have created in the physical world, so I think through art and music it touches peoples' hearts and that inspires people, and myself as well, to be better beings. That also encapsulates the whole idea of Woodford ideology as well,” he says.
“For the six days every year, Woodford becomes a universe in itself where every being is so generously at its best level of giving and receiving. It becomes that kind of place for the six days; people come out inspired and hopefully it carries out through the whole year.”
Tenzin presides over some ten activities and workshops at Woodford Folk Festival this year, including ritual blessings and invocations as well as regular vocal/ instrumental performances over the course of the festival.
“Also, we have young Tibetan artists from the Brisbane area,” Tenzin adds.
“We are trying to empower the young, up-and-coming artists living in Australia; they get a platform at Woodford to share their work and skills.”
After being a part of the Woodford community for so long, Tenzin says one of his favourite parts of the festival is running the New Year's sunrise concert overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains. “It's the first concert of the year at four in the morning and I love that,” he says.
“We'll have the Tibetan monks do the chant, then myself and a couple of other musicians playing. It's kind of like welcoming the New Year with a new sunrise, and it's really beautiful.”
Woodford Folk Festival is on at Woodfordia (Sunshine Coast) 27 December-1 January.