Four and a half stars
Indianapolis Museum of Art; May 10
You might have heard Tibetan monks chanting in the movie Kundun, or perhaps when watching a documentary, but there’s nothing like hearing it in person. These monks’ voices have been trained to sing two or three tones simultaneously, and that alone is stunning. Then when a group of them does it at the same time, it makes for a powerful performance. The chanting wasn’t particularly melodious, and didn’t always have any kind of organized, consistent rhythm to it, yet it was, without a doubt, music. Amongst the chanting there were percussive instruments and bells, the latter, when just one ring played in unison, had an insightful, poignant quality. Horns were incorporated as well, with one called a dung chen that was many feet long, with an otherworldly sound. It was pointed out that this performance wasn’t entertainment, but prayer. Buddhist or not, the music’s affect was undeniable.