Every year, Carnegie Hall hosts The Tibet House Benefit Concert featuring a flurry of iconic musicians, however this year felt different (and not just because it was Philip Glass’ 80th birthday). But Glass’ celebratory event was more than just one big fête; it was a political statement. “We need to have this loving, political revolution, but resist,” Glass declared onstage before the concert began.
Although each year the soirée is centered on preserving the Tibetan civilization and culture (as the Dalai Lama requested in 1987 when Tibet House US was founded), this year’s concert hit closer to home. At the center of Tibetan culture is the celebration of peace, love and joy, something that is lacking in currently in the U.S. With the country in disarray, all of the coveted artists who played during the benefit used the power of their craft to show that we, as Americans, should strive to have the same ethos of the Tibetan culture. And they did it through the power of song.
While some artists were more overt in their political subtext, others did so through peaceful protest. With an opening chant from Tibetan monks and the “Elemental Prayer” from Jesse Smith and Tibetan performer Tenzin Choegyal, these particular performances proved as opportunities for the audience to learn introspection, unity, peace and appreciation from Tibetan culture. The allusion to politics was more subtle at the start, but as the show went on, it was clear music became the catalyst for political discourse.