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Buddhist music a universal language (2)

By Li Anlan   (Shanghai Daily)

10:37, February 01, 2013

The upcoming concert also features mainland performer Sa Dingding, a folk singer and songwriter known for popular crossover compositions involving Buddhist music.

Born in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, she sings in three languages: Mandarin, Sanskrit and Tibetan as well as a language she invented, which expresses emotion through "meaningless" words.

Her album "Alive" in 2007 combined pop with traditional Chinese music, including Buddhist music. It was a risky but creative merger of east and west.

Critic Robin Denselow of The Guardian rated the album with four stars saying, "The Tibetan-influenced male chanting is set against a subtle use of electronica that is far more successful than on the recent album by that other Asian diva, Uzbekistan's Savara Nazarkhan. Sa Dingding's blend of the traditional east and modern west actually works."

At the concert, she will sing her compositions "Shen Xiang," ("Holy Incense"), "Alive" (in Sanskrit) and "Xi Ran Ning Po" ("Peace and Calm"). All have strong Buddhist musical elements.

The Jade Buddha Temple performance troupe will perform two songs, and it has an orchestra.

The orchestra includes traditional Chinese instruments such as the guzheng (zither), flute, drums, erhu (two-string instrument), yangqin (dulcimer), suona (loud trumpet) and sheng (loud and piercing wind instrument).

The choir and orchestra have more than 70 performers, rehearsing every Saturday and performing regularly at the Jade Buddha Temple, especially during festivals, cultural and charity events.

The programs usually involve original compositions, says Master Shengjing. Noted local composers such as Lu Qiming and Tu Bahai have written works for the temple musicians. The temple has a new musical program every year.

Annual performances begin in January. The group has performed in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and traveled overseas to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

'Illuminating the Soul'

Date: February 22, 7:30pm

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena, 1200 Expo Ave, Pudong, Shanghai

Tickets: 380-1,880 yuan

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