Sept. 20 Thimphu - Music of Bhutan Research Center
Sept. 21 Thimphu - Tshechu Festival
Royal Academy of Performing Arts
Sept. 22 Thimphu - Tshechu Festival & Cheri Monastery
Sept. 23 Phobjikha - Gangtey Tshechu Festival
Sept. 24 Phobjikha - Fortress & Village Immersion
Sept. 25 Punakha - Bhutan Rural Folk Music & Cuisine
Sept. 26 Punakha - Dzong & Talo Monastery
Sept 27 - Paro - The Music of Archery &
Sounds of Silence Prayer Wheels & Flags
Sept. 28 Paro - Tiger's Nest Hike & Kyichu Lkakhang
Sept. 29 Paro - Departure & Goodbye Ceremony
Travel into the heart of the Himalayas with Italian Maestro Aaron Carpene on a musical discovery journey across Bhutan.
During your 10-day journey with the world-renowned creator of Opera Bhutan, you will be immersed into the unique traditions of Himalayan music and dance.
This bespoke experience combines authentic local cuisine, spiritual ceremonies and private access to unexplored musical venues in the Last Shangri-La.
MEET YOUR HOST
Maestro Aaron Carpene
“Directing from the harpsichord, the Australian-born, Italian-based Aaron Carpenè shaped a superb account of Handel's most effusively lyrical score."
Opera - John Allison (Handel’s Acis and Galatea, October 2011, Macau)
“Handel’s irresistible little English opera “Acis and Galatea,” seemed to be from another world entirely. It was given a fine performance by Western soloists and the excellent Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, artfully led from the harpsichord by Aaron Carpenè.”
The New York Times - George Loomis (Handel’s Acis and Galatea)
“It was beyond the beyond, one of those rare moments in life when one is thrilled to be alive for the privilege of hearing/seeing/feeling a genius of a creation. Aaron Carpenè succeeded in producing an opera that links antiquity with modernity with a seamless result that lifts the soul as with the greatest art.”
The Hudson Review - Paula Deitz (Japan Orfeo, October 2016 Kamakura)
Aaron Carpenè: conductor, harpsichordist, organist, pianist and early music specialist, has forged a unique path in today’s music performance panorama.
The combination of a profound knowledge and performance experience in 17th and 18th century European music and the desire to interact with some of the world’s great and unique performing arts traditions has led to the creation of the pioneering projects Opera Bhutan.
Opera Bhutan is a critically acclaimed intercultural operatic performance of G. F. Handel’s Acis and Galatea in the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan that incorporated traditional Bhutanese music, dance and costume and Japan Orfeo, an integration of Monteverdi's first operatic masterpiece and Noh Theatre, Nihon Buyo and Gagaku music.
“I think of monasteries as places of retreat and silence, of chanting and prayer, a place that connects the physical world with experiences from the spiritual realm. The Cheri Goemba is nestled high above the Thimphu River in the remote northerly corner of the valley.
My first visit there as a lone traveller has remained fixed in my memory. Once inside the lower courtyard the blanket of silence allows other sensorial information to flow in, the visual delight of the well- planned architecture of wood and stone and its colourful decoration, the pungent smell of burning butter lamps.
The quiet was abruptly interrupted by a thunderous sound from above. The tumultuous explosion of Himalayan trumpets and reeds, the clashing of cymbals sent shock waves through me and I raced up the small temple on the upper level of the complex. Breathless, I was invited to join the small congregation of monks as they performed a ritual connecting us with the hereafter.
It was my first taste of the centuries old and largely unaltered tradition of Bhutanese sacred music and even as a noninitiate the experience changed forever my concept of music, its relationship between nature, humanity and the supernatural.”
The friendly community of nuns open their doors to morning prayers in the main temple hall. Chanting and musical accompaniment, burning incense and a welcome cup of tea and biscuits make the experience all the more fulfilling.
The Music of Bhutan Research Center
The Music of Bhutan Research Centre was founded in 2008 by renowned musician Kheng Sonam Dorji to document, preserve and promote the traditional music of Bhutan.
The motto of the centre is “Promoting Gross National Happiness through music and dance”.
“Kheng Sonam never fails to impress me when I have the good fortune to meet him: he is always ready with his drangyen (Bhutanese lute) or flute to strike up a tune or sing an engaging folk song.”
He is also a master ethnomusicologist and spends a lot of his time travelling to remote villages throughout the kingdom to record and document fast-vanishing music traditions.
Ritual, dance, masks, costumes, music, pageantry and spectacle enthrall and enchant the onlooker at the annual tschechu, an occasion that brings together the district community from far and wide, city folk and villagers attired in their finest costumes. The dances are mystical but can also vaunt an earthly humor as the comic atsara in their red mask and costume wreaks laughter-drawing havoc among performers and audience alike. According to Bhutanese Buddhist belief, the very act of watching a tschechu dance represents a step towards enlightenment.
Royal Academy of Performing Arts
The Royal Academy of Performing Arts in Thimphu was founded by the third king Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1954 in an effort to preserve traditional Bhutanese culture. The Academy trains young dancers from all over the country in both religious and secular folk music and dance.
They joined the Opera Bhutan team in the first historic opera performance in Bhutan in 2013, touring to the USA in 2014. The RAPA is pleased to give private performances in the promotion of their activity and the Bhutanese culture they represent.
Punakha Village Life
Village life offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness authentic folk music in its true context. The villages of Lobesa and Talo in the Punakha district possess vivacious musical traditions of song and movement often connected to annual agricultural practices such as rice planting and pounding.
Apart from motivating the workers in the field, the song is also a way for the community to pray for a good harvest. The Aungli or buffalo horn is played by cow herders in the morning and evening for the cows while during the day it is sounded to protect them from tigers, leopards and other predators.
The entrance into the remote Phobjikha Valley is the doorway to a microcosm of Bhutanese society, its customs and traditions, its cultural heritage and history and its unique offering of flora and fauna.
The sprawling valley is carpeted with the exotic dwarf bamboo where the black-neck cranes feed and roost during the winter season.
Designated as a conservation zone, the locals are meticulous in maintaining the necessary conditions of environmental unobtrusiveness to ensure the continuing migration of the endangered cranes.
While the valley enchants for its wealth of natural beauty and resources, the village of Gangtey boasts the historic Gangtey Goenpa.
The 15th century Terton (treasure-finder) Pema Lingpa prophesied that a monastery would be built on this site overlooking the valley, fulfilled in 1613 by his grandson Rigdzin Pema Thinley.
The monastery underwent recent major renovation and received funding from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Program to digitize its immense manuscript collection from the 17th century that is a unique testament of the Nyingma tradition, the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Gangtey Tshechu offers an opportunity to witness a sacred festival with special ties to core spiritual values of the nation.
Prayer Wheels & Flags
Prayer water wheels rotate with the flow of water, a silvery bell chimes with every rotation, the mantra is repeated perpetually; flags flap in the wind as their prayers become wind-borne. The fusion of nature and man-made is the symphony of sound that beckons the ear in the abundance of examples throughout the land, each unique in manufacture and location.
Talo Monastery: Perched high on the mountaintops overlooking the valley and 2000 meter climb to Dochu La pass, the rarely visited Talo Monastery provides a glimpse into the authentic monastic life in Bhutan.
Expect to be enthusiastically welcomed by Buddhist students of all ages who are eager to share their traditions with the rare visitor. Light Butter Lamps, learn about purification incense, and hang prayer flags during this spiritual immersion.
There's A Lot More To This Trip
Than Just Music
Privately hosted exprience with Aaron Carpene & Team
All 3+ plus Accommodations & Meals
All government visas
All guides, vehicles & drivers
Standard non-alcoholic beverages
All in-country transportation
All cultural activities & entrances
All private access music activities
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare from your hometown to the arrival city of Paro, Bhutan
Passport fees and visa photos as required
Personal items such as wines, liquors, a-la-carte orders, meals other than specified.
Any overnight stays or costs in Bangkok, Thailand prior to or after the package trip to Bhutan.
FREE SPA UPGRADE!
HOT STONE BATH + THERAPEUTIC BHUTANESE MASSAGE
A $250 Package Value
For Bookings Made By: March 28, 2018
EXPERIENCE THE HIMALAYAS
And so much more!
This could be you...
So what are you waiting for?
All Photos Taken By AllBhutanTravel.org Clients.
CONTACT US: AllBhutanTravel@gmail.com