A new compilation of contemplative music aimed at spreading and articulating the concept of aloha across cultural divides features inspirational words from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama alongside songs from world music icons including Maui’s Keola Beamer, world music composer Christopher Hedge, and the late, world-renowned flutist and “father of New Age music” Paul Horn.
Songs on the album, Himalayan Sessions, had been compiled by Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti to serve as the soundtrack for his documentary films Journey Inside Tibet, Mount Kailash – Return to Tibet, Tibetan Illusion Destroyer, When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan, and the Emmy Award-winning film Bhutan Taking The Middle Path To Happiness.
“The concept behind this whole project started with a conversation that Keola and I had a couple years ago, and the spirit behind it is literally to try to spread the concept of aloha around the world,” Vendetti said.
When Horn teamed up with Emmy Award-winning Hedge and Hawaiian traditional music master Beamer to create a compilation of songs aimed at spreading and articulating the concept of aloha across cultural divides, they said only the inspirational words of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama seemed to possess the precise level of universal spiritual eclecticism to accompany that music.
The music, which correlates with the whole idea of preserving culture, especially indigenous and native cultures, was all recorded on location in Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan; the Dalai Lama’s words were recorded in Dharamsala, India. Vendetti, who interviewed His Holiness for 45 minutes at his home in Dharmsala, said the Dalai Lama’s spoken word on the album reveals that the precepts of Tibetan Buddhism are strikingly similar to the spirit behind aloha – from espousing compassion for all sentient beings to alerting an urgent need to protect and heal our environment.
“In our families, [the] idea of aloha has been passed down for generations,” said Beamer. “My family traces its lineage back to the 13th century in Hawai‘i. And the spirit of aloha was intrinsic in our family for its entire existence on this planet.”
The sense of peace that these cultures express is such a contrast to sometimes very challenging lives,” said Hedge. “It’s our job to communicate what we experienced through this music, find its essential truth and stay out of its way.”
The link between music, healing, and spiritual change is one Horn, Beamer, and Hedge have been exploring in their distinctly respective ways for years. They created the Himalayan Sessions as a vehicle for spreading aloha and promoting a more unified world, free from the dividing principles of culture, faith, and nation. This album is the latest in their ongoing efforts to increase dialogue, respect, and engagement via education and creative projects.
Beamer feels strongly that it’s time for us to all move beyond the division, into greater spiritual connection and mutual recognition. He puts it in deeply personal terms in describing the magic of communicating through music across the cultural divide. “We didn’t share a language and many expert musicians could not read Western music notation,” said Beamer about the recording sessions. “I really developed a kind of a spiritual connection to people making music sometimes with pretty bare instrumentation, sometimes crudely constructed instruments. I just love the feeling of human beings trying to create stuff in their own way, and their own voices, their own tonality.”
One-hundred percent of the proceeds from Himalayan Sessions will benefit the Aloha Music Camp, which provides ukuleles to children in third-world countries.