Yungchen Lhamo & Anton Batagov
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As the snow drifted down, covering New York City and its environs in a foot-deep blanket of white, classically trained pianist and post-minimalist composer Anton Batagov put his fingers to the keys. “I had not a single note on paper. No files, nothing,” he remembers.
He had come together with Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo, whose flowing voice unfurls melodies that shimmer with profound awareness of both her native Tibetan culture and her Buddhist faith. “I said you play something, if you feel like it. If not, it’s okay,” Lhamo recalls. “Then we found the common sense of offering—not just making or manufacturing something.”
Though ostensibly from two different cultural and musical worlds, the two musicians found common ground in a meditative and wide-open musical dialogue. Tayatha is the striking chronicle of their encounter, ripe with Batagov’s restrained yet sure-footed playing, and Lhamo’s delicate yet powerful voice. Referencing their shared practice of Buddhism and their shared belief in music’s power to shift the world, Batagov and Lhamo demonstrate the irrelevance of cultural boundaries in their deep, focused response to each other’s music.