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Benefit concert for Tibet in 1994. World Tibet Network News

World Tibet Network News
Friday, February 11, 1994

Benefit Concert for Tibet at Carnegie Hall Attracts Impressive Array of Performers


NEW YORK, February 11, AP -- A Paul Simon duet with Philip Glass and a brooding solo performance by Natalie Merchant were the highlights of a Carnegie Hall concert held Thursday to celebrate the Tibetan New Year and call attention to China´s continuing suppression of Tibet´s culture and religion.

The concert, a benefit for the Tibet House of New York, attracted an impressive array of performers, including Richie Havens, the Roches, Allen Ginsberg and Edie Brickell. Harrison Ford, Richard Gere and Uma Thurman lent their names as honorary chairs.

´The secret of the fact that a number of distinguished people try to help us is they´re moved by the plight of Tibet,´ said Robert Thurman, the chairman of the religion department at Columbia University, president of Tibet House, and father of Uma.

´It´s not currently in the news like Sarajevo, but it´s a sort of
long-festering Sarajevo,´ he said.

The goal of Tibet House, which was established in 1987, is not to liberate the country but to help preserve its culture, Thurman said. ´The communist policy was to try to eradicate religion, and Tibetan culture is very religious.´
Although it was a benefit, the concert did more to raise consciousness than raise funds. Ticket prices were kept comparatively low for a benefit (the top price was $75), and the concert was unlikely to raise more than about $25,000, Thurman said. ´It builds the movement,´ he said.

Perhaps because of the underlying political sentiments, the concert had an unusually intimate feel, and it was notable for putting performers together in unusual combinations.

Glass opened the concert with a gentle solo piano composition. He was then joined by Simon, on acoustic guitar, for a performance of a Simon tune they recorded together on Simon´s ´Hearts and Bones´ album.

Glass left, and Brickell joined Simon for a duet before Ginsberg appeared to sing a bit of doggerel about meditation and to recite a few poems, one with the backing of Glass on piano.

The Roches sang one of their own songs (´Everyone Is Good´) and then joined Nawang Khechog, a Tibetan flutist, to perform a new song based on the Tibetan national anthem.

Merchant also sang with Khechog before moving to the piano to accompany herself on ´These Are Days´ and ´I´m Not the Man,´ two songs from the recent 10,000 Maniacs album, ´MTV Unplugged.´ Merchant has left the band to begin a solo career.

After confessing that she was terrified to be performing alone, she delivered strong renditions of both songs, slowing the tempos to a crawl and often letting her voice soar above the piano.

The concert was opened and closed with the unearthly, deep-throated chants of monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery. Just before the monks´ closing ceremony, Richie Havens led all of the performers in a few jubilant choruses of his Woodstock anthem, ´Freedom.´

The concert was held on the eve of the Tibetan Year of the Wood Dog. ´It should be a good year, not too dangerous,´ said Thurman. ´It´s a friendly animal.´

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