Nepalese musician and composer Manose Singh is collaborating with The Storytellers, a Bhutanese refugee performance collective, to create an evening-length performance, Mero Yatra, Mero Geet (My Journey, My Song), featuring traditional and new Nepali music staged with song and spoken word narrative. Themes of the work will come from the personal journey stories of The Storytellers.
The Bhutanese who are served by Asian Refugees United come from an ethnic minority group (Lhotshampa) who lived in Bhutan for generations. After Bhutan’s king declared the “One Nation, One People” policy in 1989, they were dehumanized, tortured, killed, and forced to leave their homes. Those who survived were relegated to camps in Nepal for close to two decades before being relocated to Oakland, California. Few people in the United States know their story. Some three years ago, performing artist Dohee Lee began working with them to help them express their experiences in performances. This project with Manose Singh continues that effort to reconstruct their lost history and mythology.
Manose Singh is a bansuri flautist born in Boudhanath, Nepal. He began studying the bansuri as a child and at age 15 was named Nepal’s “Instrumentalist of the Year.” Today he is widely recognized as Nepal’s premiere instrumentalist and tours internationally. He and The Storytellers will collaborate over the course of a year, beginning with weekly writing and storytelling sessions, choosing folk songs and themes that explore their identity, and eventually forming into ensemble configurations of singers and instrumentalists. In time, Manose Singh will create new compositions to accompany their individual and collective stories. They plan to premiere the new work based on their explorations in May 2022 at the Eastside Cultural Center in Oakland.