L.A. to Kick Off Dalai Lama's World Festival of Sacred Music
-- by Diane Maithman, Times Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1999
Gospel choirs, Tibetan monks and nuns, traditional Hawaiian dancers and
musicians, Bosnian and Croatian choruses, Native American drum circles
and the Los Angeles Philharmonic represent only a small sampling of the
global mix of artists scheduled to perform in more than 60 Los Angeles
venues during the World Festival of Sacred Music--the Americas, Oct.
Initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and described by its directors
as "an intercultural, interethnic, interfaith celebration," the event
will span five continents. L.A. is the first city to participate in the
global millennium event, to continue in Africa, Asia, Australia and
Europe through fall 1999 and spring 2000.
The local festivities kick off Oct. 10 at the Hollywood Bowl with the
"Sacred Americas Concert"--featuring the Philharmonic performing
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony--with the Dalai Lama on hand to address the
Other performances will include Balinese gamelan; Canadian First Nation
music and dance; Jewish, Armenian and Ethiopian choruses; indigenous
music of the Brazilian Amazon; Sacred Harp singing; Iranian Sufi music;
and chorale, chant, drum and dance traditions of Pacific Island nations.
The festival is coordinated by the Dalai Lama's Foundation for Social
Responsibility in conjunction with Tibet House, New Delhi, under the
direction of Lama Doboom Tulku, in association with the Foundation for
World Arts and the Earthways Foundation. It is also part of the Los
Angeles Cultural Affairs Millennium Celebration, and is endorsed by the
Interreligious Council of Southern California and the San Fernando
Valley Interfaith Council.
Festival director Judy Mitoma says that about a year ago she received a
letter from the Dalai Lama indicating that Los Angeles was under
consideration as the American site for the festival.
"Until I got the letter from the Dalai Lama, I had not heard of a
millennium project that I thought was worthy of the transition that was
about to occur," Mitoma says. "It was inclusive, embracing, and of
course connects the arts and music with faith-based organizations."
Mitoma, founding chair of the UCLA department of world cultures, was
among the organizers of the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals under
artistic director Peter Sellars--also citywide, multivenue,
multicultural events. Mitoma said the experience prepared her to present
Lama Doboom Tulku with a more specific and detailed festival plan than
other cities under consideration. "I think that, as well as the
multicultural nature of Los Angeles, led to the decision," Mitoma says.
Sellars has served as a consultant on the Sacred Music Festival, and
former Los Angeles Festival officials are contributing to this event as
well. The always-struggling Los Angeles Festival, originally conceived
as a triennial event, never returned after 1993--but, Mitoma says, "I
like to think of this festival as an incarnation of the Los Angeles
Mitoma says festival organizers have $600,000 left to raise to fund the
$4-million to $5-million festival; the larger estimated figure is mostly
comprising of in-kind donations, with support from Cultural Affairs, the
James Irvine Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and individuals.
Participating venues include the Armand Hammer Museum and Cultural
Center, John Anson Ford Amphitheater, Japanese American Cultural and
Community Center, Museum of Tolerance, Museum of Latin American Art and
Watts Towers Arts Center. Synagogues, churches and other places of
worship will also host events.
A schedule of events will be released June 15. Information: (310)