In July 2011 I travelled half way round the world from Sydney to take part in a festival in Italy celebrating 30 years of Merigar, a centre for the preservation of Tibetan culture and Dzogchen teachings, established by Tibetan master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1981. The global Dzogchen Community created this event as an offering to the people of the nearby Tuscan villages who have been part of the growth and development of Merigar over three decades. Artists, musicians, dancers, performers, speakers and volunteers from every corner of the world arrived to take part. I have tried to capture a little of the story here for you.
Destination: Merigar near Arcidosso, Tuscany, Italy
China's Great Wall - looks like I walked all the way...
to Colloseo, Roma.
Mmm...that's more like it...
Merigar! We've arrived!
Check into Merigar Dua Dormitory...
I love my room!
especially the decor...
Head off by foot along the dirt road to Merigar, past Tiziana's house...
First things first - check emails in the Yellow House diner along with Elly& Steph (Australia/ Cambodia), Massimo (Seggiano).
and Marina (Brazil, US)and Sebastian (Italy,US) who are psyching themselves up to go and rehearse the Lindy Hop.
After the gana puja, just a regular Sunday afternoon at Merigar - playing pachen with Rinpoche at Meribar.
Serious work begins - musicians meeting - Jasna (Serbia), Pancho(Spain), Kathy (New York), Gabriela, Alma (Paris).
Igris (France), Michal, Alex(Israel).
Our rehearsal space is waiting thanks to Enzo, our set up guy and sound man at Carpenti.
Valerie (flute, Armenia) and Alex( violin, Russia) warming up.
Livio (piano, Sardinia), Adriano (harp, Italy).
Collaborasi - collaborazione - colaboracion...
Meanwhile singers Gabriella, Rita, Kathy, Harvey, myself, start serious doo-wahing...
and more doo-wahing...
Iron(ing) man Vincenzo, (whose hotel we are rehearsing in) provides everything we need including light relief. Thanks Vincenzo!
Singers in their own right, become back up singers on other singer/song writers' numbers - Rita (NewYork), Monica (Germany) Kathy (NewYork).
Pancho (bending) the organiser of the whole shebang can also make himself handy fixing a lead. Mark
(guitar, USA, Germany) riffing, while Iron(ing) man keeps ironing.
Working on Monica's song 'Wide Open Space'.
Pancho also plays drums! Here he is waiting to be cued in in Gabriela's song.
Iron(ing) Man is finished ironing all the hotel linen...says he irons much better to music...
but still manages to engage Kathy in some tricky sheet folding activity.
Livio and Harvey (saxaphone, NewYork) getting down now..
Adriano whipping the crew into shape for his Akashmani Project
Singers adjourn to the terrace, John Shane and Spanish friends join in on the old gospel number 'Fly Away'
Walking to rehearsals next day on the Merigar road I gain new insight into Rinpoche's mirror metaphor.
Rehearsing my composition 'Dance of Eucalyptus' with Livio and Ignatius (double bass).
the bends of eucalyptus stems
the dance of time
the dying dim light
the blurred stone veins
your body absorbs the twilight
the pillow of winter
the bonfire, the shrill of a kookaburra
the whimpering wind
(1st verse, poem by Sitok Srengenge, Indonesia)
Gabriela teaches us her song 'Dream'.
Giving the cue to Pancho on drums.
Take it away back up girls!
Valerie does another stunning flute solo
After lunch at Merigar, more serious doo-wahing for the Merigar Choir's deliciously disonant rendition of 'Summertime'