Baglung: Speaking The Universal Language

As part of his Artist Ambassador duties with the Save The Children Foundation, Lynn took a side trip to the Baglung area, which is located about 170 miles west of Kathmandu to bring healing and education through music to children in need. And since this is Nepal, that seemingly short distance required a 30 minute plane ride followed up by a three hour drive across a seemingly endless series of switchbacks and patches of very rough road (albeit punctuated by some of the most striking scenery on the planet).

The evening of our arrival, we learned the villagers had arranged a welcome ceremony for the two of us which ended up as one of the profoundly meaningful cultural diplomacy exchanges I’ve ever witnessed. The villagers packed into their community building and after formal introductions we were treated to a display of local music, songs, and dances; each performed by a different generational group.

The first group to go was the teens as the boys played instruments and sang while the girls danced. Next was a special performance by one of the village leaders who performed a special piece of music he wrote especially for this occasion. A professional tabla player of note from the area joined in and a quartet of younger teen girls sang along while the composer played what appeared to be a very small samvadini harmonium.

Afterward, it was “the wives” turn as several played instruments and sang while a trio of their peers danced. The villager’s portion concluded with “the fathers”  group, which consisted of one of the elders performing a narrative that included segments of singing and dancing from each of the previous groups.

When they were done, they looked at Lynn and said “your turn” and never one to miss beat, Lynn produced his cello and proceeded to present a wonderfully interactive segment that included traditional solo cello music alongside a touching series of from-the-heart monologues. Free of Western concert protocol, a number of our hosts were talking amongst themselves in response to what Lynn was playing and had questions for him afterward. During a particularly endearing moment, a little boy no older than three walked right up to Lynn as he was playing to reach out and touch the bridge of Lynn’s cello.

Once finished, the villagers broke into song and dance again and this time around, everyone took part, including Lynn and me. At the end of the evening, Lynn took a series of group photos as the sun was setting over the mountains. Unfortunately, I was only able to grab a few photos as Lynn and I were seated front and center but the Save The Children folks had a professional photographer along and I’m hoping to be able to post some of his photos once they become available.

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