Mongolia – September 2012

When I was invited to go to Mongolia, my first inclination was to decline because it was just too far to travel.?? Plus, I didn’t think I would ever take it upon myself to visit that part of the world.? This last reason not to go ended up being one of the big reason to go, actually.? What a neat and original destination for a Canadian.? In any case I really enjoyed my time there and was very happy to have undertaken that journey.? Mongolia is a very unique and fascinating part of the world.? A former world power, shrunken and squeezed in between the more recent world powers of Russia and China.? All the while maintaining it’s own smiling individuality.

The Mongolian Steppes
The Mongolian Steppes

Our Songs of the Soul concerts took us to the cities of Erdenet, Darkhan and the capital Ulaanbaatar.? These concerts were not really any different from the meditative concerts that we’ve been offering free of charge in the so-called Western World.? The only real difference I would say is that audiences in Mongolia have a more casual approach to concert-going.?? The Mongolians are comfortable chatting and coming and going during concerts, but will be very enthusiastic and appreciative with their applause and feedback at the end of the concerts.? It reminded me of attending a concert by Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya, one of the biggest names in Bengali music where the audience was almost entirely Bengali and behaving in a similar way.

The Palace of Independance - our concert hall in Ulaanbaatar
The Palace of Independance – our concert hall in Ulaanbaatar

Mongolia is not on the path of most western tourists, so the crowd was quite ethnically homogeneous, which was interesting.? I don’t think about it at home, but clearly I am used to a seeing people from diverse backgrounds around me.? I think that both environments have their charm.

Mongolia, and especially the capital Ulaanbaatar is otherwise full of paradoxes and juxtaposition.? It is quite common to find the traditional nomadic dwellings of yurts right in the city next to modern high-rise buildings.

On the front steps of government buildings

Aside from the concerts we did get a chance to do the national activity of horseback riding.? We also got to visit lots of Genghis Khan sites including a brand-new gargantuous metal statue that stands 40 metres tall in the middle of Steppes somewhere.?? In the West we are often given the impression that Mr. Khan was a rampaging barbarian.? I suppose you would put it that way if a conqueror had come right into your backyard and camped out for a while.? At the peak of their empire, the Mongols had gone as far West as occupying what is currently Ukraine.? In present-day Mongolia, Genghis Khan is revered as a great ruler and administrator, and it is true that, a mindless barbarian could not have conquered and administered such a massive territory without some serious intelligence and skill.? That’s all the historical editorialism I will permit myself for the moment, but it was fascinating to learn what I could while I was there.

Monument to Genghis Khan built in 2008
Monument to Genghis Khan built in 2008

The local Mongolian hosts and organizers were fantastic and it was really great to meet true spiritual brothers and sisters who practice meditation in what seems like a remote part of the Earth.? I for one am grateful to have had this opportunity and I hope that the audiences appreciated the music.

I performed with Christian for this tour (former member of the Vienna Boys Choir).? Other performers were a local Mongolian Boys Group along with Paree’s International Singers, Agnikana’s Group, Mandu and Visuddhi, Shamita and Sahadeva’s Orchestra.

When in Mongolia…
Stage manager with eagle
Government building statue
Cellist with Bactrian camel

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