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October 16, 2006

WORLD'S OLDEST CHANTS TO BE PERFORMED AT SIMON'S ROCK COLLEGE BY JAPANESE BUDDHIST MONKS AT SPECIAL PEACE CEREMONY

In a rare U.S. performance, a group of 20 Tendai Buddhist Monks from Mount Hiei, near Kyoto, Japan, will perform a special Shomyo Chant for Peace at Simon's Rock College of Bard. The performance will take place in the McConnell Theater of the Daniel's Art Center, on Sunday, October 22 at 1 p.m.

This event will mark the final US performance of the Tendai Buddhist monks.

The hauntingly beautiful and highly stylized chanting, known as Shomyo, is derived from the Vedic chants sung by Brahman monks in India, 5000 years ago. The form was transmitted from India to China as Buddhism traveled that same path. Ultimately, Shomyo arrived in Japan with the introduction of Buddhism, approximately 1500 years ago. This uninterrupted transmission, according to musicologists, insures that Shomyo is representative of the earliest identified, organized choral form. It remains an active and very meaningful component of Japanese Tendai Buddhist rituals.

The Shomyo selections chosen by the monks for this performance will accompany a Tendai esoteric ritual service for World Peace, Daiho-Hyaku-Komyo-Ku.

The meaning of the service and the Shomyo selections will be explained in an introduction to the performance by Abbott Monshin Naamon, founder and leader of the Tendai Buddhist Institute in Canaan, New York.

"The Simon's Rock audience will witness a rare cultural and spiritual event, performed by the direct spiritual descendents of the first Japanese Tendai Monks, who preserved the Shomyo form transmitted by Chinese monks in the 7th century," noted Abbott Naamon. The Monks will perform the Shomyo in traditional, formal seated pose. A series of beautiful projected images will underscore and compliment both the literal and spiritual significance of the event.

The Shomyo Chant for Peace is part of an ongoing celebration of the first anniversary of the consecration of Tendai Buddhism's first temple in North America. That temple - known as Jiunzan Tendai-ji and reminiscent of regional Shaker structures - is located on the grounds of The Tendai Buddhist Institute on Route 295 in Canaan, New York.

Tickets for the Shomyo for World Peace, priced at $25 for general admission and $15 for students, are available from The Tendai Buddhist Institute, on line at www.tendai.org or by phone at 518-392-7963. Any remaining tickets will be available at the theater on the day of the performance. Abbott Monshin Naamon is available for interviews.

Simon's Rock Media Contact:
Briee Della Rocca: 413 644-4706
E-mail: bdellarocca@simons-rock.edu