(At the threshold of this life)
Tse Go La (At the threshold of this life) is scored for SATB and SSA choruses, chamber orchestra and pre-recorded electronics. The work is inspired by my fieldwork in the restricted, remote Himalayan region of Lo Monthang in Upper Mustang, Nepal. There I recorded/documented indigenous folk music with Katey Blumenthal, ethnomusicologist and anthropologist.
The people of this region, just over the border of Tibet, are ethnically Tibetan. This ancient horse culture is threatened and efforts are being made to help preserve the music, dance, medicine, religion, language and art. Under the auspices of the Rubin Foundation and with additional support from The University of the Arts, Katey and I recorded over 130 songs that had not been previously documented. These included the complete repertoire of gar-glu (court offering songs) of royal court singer Tashi Tsering as well as tro-glu (common “dance” songs) sung by three women from the community, Kheng Lhamo, Yandol Dolkar and Pema Dolkar, who had a vast knowledge of these songs that they learned from their elders. The songs we recorded are in the Cultural Library in Lo Monthang, Nepal and are now part of the University of Cambridge World Oral Literature Project: “an urgent global initiative to document and make accessible endangered oral literatures before they disappear without record” (www.oralliterature.org). Some of the recorded songs are being taught to Mustangi children in NYC as part of a Himalayan language and culture preservation initiative.
I incorporated elements of the traditional songs (sung in Loba, the Mustang dialect of Tibetan) into a contemporary framework in the central movements of the cantata. The traditional texts were initially translated by Katey Blumenthal and Karma Wangyal Gurung in Lo Monthang. Dr. Sienna Craig, distinguished anthropologist and writer who accompanied me on my first trek to Lo Monthang in 2008, provided additional translation and interpretation of the texts and wrote original poetry for the first and last movements.
The cantata is informed by rites of passage and the seven movements take one on a journey from birth through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, elderhood and death.
– Andrea Clearfield
Please Visit Andrea Clearfield’s Website to hear a recording of this work and see more information.
*Please note, in addition to these score and parts, this piece likely requires renting tibetan instruments, which can be rented from the composer directly. Please contact Andrea Clearfield through her website for more information.