Thursday, June 21, 2018

Voices of Women in Sacred Music (video)

Prof. Anne Harley, Scripps College (, YouTube, John Schneider ("Global Village," June 21, 2018, KPFK 90.7 FM); Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
The Buddhist Therigatha is 2,600 years old.
On today's episode of Global Village, John Schneider hosts some incredible female musicians. The first is Yale-educated Anne Harley talking about ancient Buddhism in Dunhuang (Central Asia as it abuts Western China with its own Research Academy). She talks about Buddhist nuns of the two dominant schools and Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, a Western mystic, poet, composer, and musician. Hildegard opened scholars' minds as to how much women contributed to spirituality through music. Are women capable of enlightenment and mysticism (direct experience of the divine)? These women prove they are. LISTEN (Global Village - Thurs, June 21, 2018, 11:00 AM)

Professor of Music Anne Harley (Scripps)
Voices of the Pearl, in newly commissioned song cycles,  traces the tenuous lineage of women who dared to encounter the unmediated divine.

Their efforts span time, religion, nation, and culture. This project commissions, performs, and records musical works from composers across the world, setting text by and about female esoterics from world traditions throughout history, reclaiming these lost voices and the tradition of female spirituality.

By juxtaposing and performing four to five cycles by living composers, a full-length evening of portraits is created of female esoterics, traversing time and geography.
Ayya Tathaloka, California Theravada nuns
The performance of several different cycles over the course of an evening focuses audiences' attention on the musical portraits of women negotiating the intersection of heaven and earth, in a variety of world traditions: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist.
  • [The section on Buddhist nuns is particularly striking as it sets to music rare and ancient Buddhist texts known as the Therigatha or "Verses of the Nuns," which are songs about individual enlightenment experiences of theris or female-elders, an "elder" being anyone with ten or more rains retreats in the robe. Harley gathered these texts from "female monks" in Theravada Thailand, the are fully ordained nuns. But "nun" has another, lower-status meaning of the Maechi or White-Clad Ten Precept Nuns, like Srirasmi Suwadee is treated, who are not fully ordained.]
Goddesses (devis) can teach and sing.
The female esoteric practitioner is twice marginalized in the world’s traditions. First, the mystic’s direct contact with the divine threatens the hierarchical [and patriarchal] structures of organized religion, so they are sometimes labeled heretical.

Second, women are often considered by religious traditions incapable, due to their female bodies, to attain an authentic [enlightenment or] direct mystical contact with the divine.
[The Buddha said they could and made them "nuns," wandering female ascetics, but that did not stop sexist societies from doubting them and them doubting themselves.] 

Voices of the Pearl traces the tenuous lineage of women who dared to encounter the divine directly. More

Voices of the Pearl: Vol. 1, Secret Book of Sun Bu'er: Step 5: Cultivating the Elixir (養丹)

Artist Song Title Album Label Played
Joan Huang Along the River During the Gingming Festival (Bustling Market) Festive River, East Meets West Cambria Music 11:01 AM
Anne Harley, Steve Thachuk Voices of the Pearl, excerpts Live In-Studio Live In-Studio 11:15 AM
Anne Harley, Steve Thachuk Voices of the Pearl, excerpts Live In-Studio Live In-Studio 11:

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