Berkeley Buddhist Ritual Music Symposium

Buddhist singing statue


November 6-7, 2015 | This symposium is focused on traditional Buddhist ritual music to consider its importance for studying the evolution of Buddhist culture as well as the interaction between Buddhist music and traditional musical culture outside the monastery in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Nepal and Laos. It will include presentations by scholars in the field of ethnomusicology, Buddhist studies and/or religious studies and performances by Buddhist monastics, renowned in their home countries for their musicality in ritual chanting.


Friday, November 6, 2015

12:30 - 5:00pm
Symposium: Toll Room, Alumni House

12:30 – 12:45 pm
Introductory Remarks
Mark Blum, UC Berkeley

12:45 – 1:25 pm
'Reciting, Chanting, and Singing: Codifying Music in Buddhist Canon Law'
Cuilan Liu, McGill University

1:25 – 2:05 pm
'The Sound of Vultures' Wings: Tibetan Buddhist Ritual as Performing Art'
Jeffrey Cupchik, St. John Fisher College

2:10 – 2:50 pm
'Use of Dance as a Ritual Tool in the Tantric Tradition of Nepalese Buddhism'
Alexander von Rospatt, UC Berkeley

3:05 – 3:45 pm
'Chanting with the Dragon’s Voice: Music and Musical Notation in Japanese Sōtō Zen'
Michaela Mross, Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley

3:45 – 4:25 pm
'Music and Liturgy in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism: The Rishu Zanmai Rite'
Steven G. Nelson, Hosei University, Japan

4:30 – 5:00 pm
Group Discussion

7:00 - 10:30pm
Performances: Zellerbach Playhouse

7:00 – 8:00 pm
Rishu Zanmai, Japanese Esoteric Buddhist Chant (Japan)
Performance by Karyovinga Shomyo Kenkyukai Ensemble​- Arai Kojun, Kawashiro Kodo, Numajiri Kensho, Tanaka Kokan, Tobe Kenkai

8:15 – 9:15 pm
Charya Nritya by Dance Mandal (Portland, Oregon)
Performers: Prajwal Vajracharya, Uppa Sakya, Corinne Nakamura-Rybak

9:30 – 10:30 pm
Tibetan Ritual Music and Dance (Dehradun, India)
​Performers: Drikung Kagyu nuns from Samtenling Nunnery - Konchok Gamtso, Konchok Tsechik, Meena Kumari, Sonam Choenzin, Tandup Angmo, and Tsewang Dolma Sherpa

Saturday, November 7, 2015

9:30 am – 11:00am
Symposium: Toll Room, Alumni House

9:30 – 10:10 am
'The Dhamma as Sonic Praxis: Perspectives on Chant in Burmese and Khmer Buddhism'
Paul Greene, Penn State Brandywine

10:20 – 11:00 am
'Taxonomies of Chant in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand'
Trent Walker, UC Berkeley

12:15 – 2:40pm
Performances: Zellerbach Playhouse

12:20 – 1:00 pm
Khmer ‘Smot’ Melodic Chant (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
Performer: Ms. Pheoun Sreypov

1:05 – 1:45 pm
Lao ‘Doen Sieng’ and ‘Lae’ Sermon Chant (Santa Rosa, California)
Performer: Ven. Phetsamone Keomixay

2:00 – 2:40 pm
Sri Lankan ‘Paritta/Pirit’ Protective Chant (Rosemead, California)
Performer: Ven. Sumitta Thero

3:00 – 4:50pm
Symposium: Toll Room, Alumni House

3:00 – 3:40 pm
'History and Practice of Wuhui Nianfo'
Beth Szczepanski, Lewis and Clark College

3:40 – 4:20 pm
'Elasticity of Korean Buddhist Rituals: Socioeconomic Conformance of the Pomp’ae Chant Performances'
Byong Won Lee, University of Hawai’i, Manoa

4:30 – 4:50 pm
Group Discussion

6:00 – 8:05pm
Performances: Zellerbach Playhouse

6:00 – 6:55 pm
Yongsanje Buddhist Ritual (Seoul, Korea)
Performers: Ven. Pophyon, Han Sungyul, Kim Beop Ki, Kwaon Rihwan, Lee Chang Won

7:10-8:05 pm
Ven. Shi Guangquan (Hangzhou, China)
Performers: Monks from the Lingyin Temple and the Buddhist Academy of Hangzhou


Drikung Kagyu Samtenling Nuns
Dehradun, India​

Drikung Kagyu Samtenling is a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery located in Dehradun, India, founded in 1992 as a branch of the Drikung Kagyu lineage's seat in exile. It functions as an educational center for a diverse group of nuns who hail from areas across the Himalayas, including Tibet, Ladakh, Kinnaur, and Nepal. With its core mission to preserve and promote the traditional Drikung Kagyu nunnery system, Samtenling Nunnery currently houses roughly sixty nuns who spend their time studying Buddhist philosophy, training in ritual arts, or engaged in meditation retreat. In 2009, the nuns of Samtenling Nunnery performed at the Victoria and Albert Museum's “A Day of Rare Buddhist Dances.” For this year's “Buddhist Ritual Music” conference at UC Berkeley, Samtenling Nunnery is represented by Konchok Gamtso, Konchok Tsechik, Meena Kumari, Sonam Choenzin, Tandup Angmo, and Tsewang Dolma Sherpa.

Karyovinga Shōmyō Kenkyūkai Ensemble
Tokyo, Japan

The Karyovinga Shōmyō Kenkyūkai Ensemble (or Kashōken for short) was founded in 1980 by priests of the Shingon school in order to study, disseminate, and pass down shōmyō ritual chanting in the tradition of the Buzan sect of the Shingon school. In 1966, about twenty Shingon priests under the leadership of Rev. Yuko Aoki (1891–1985), abbot of Hasedera (the head temple of the Buzan sect), gave public performances of ancient liturgical chant for the first time, which were received with great enthusiasm. These were followed by further performances in Japan—predominantly at the National Theater in Tokyo—and by highly praised performances in a several German cities during their first European tour in 1973.
In 1980 the hitherto loosely composed group of priests came together more formally as a permanent ensemble under the name Karyovinga Shōmyō Kenkyūkai (“The Karyovinga Association for the Study of Shōmyō Ritual Chanting”). Karyōvinga is the Japanese translation of kalaviṅka, the Sanskrit name of a mythical bird known for the unearthly beauty of its song. In Buddhism kalaviṅka is a symbol of transcendental understanding.
The ensemble now has ninety members from Shingon temples all over Japan. The ensemble has toured overseas with a variety of its members on a number of occasions. Most notably is their performance during the Salzburg Music Festival in Austria in 2013.
For their performance in Berkeley, Rev. Kojun Arai, one of the most celebrated shōmyō singers of Japan and a renowned scholar of Japanese Buddhist chant, will lead the ensemble.

Ven. Nivitigala Sumitta Thero
​Rosemead, California

Sumitta Thero holds two BA degrees and three masters degrees, and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of the West, Los Angeles, California. Prior to joining UWest, Sumitta Thero was studying at University of Delhi, India and University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. He then started teaching at the Bhiksu University of Sri Lanka apart from teaching in several other institutes as a visiting instructor. Thero has conducted several national and international academic conferences and workshops apart from attending a number of national and international Buddhist conferences. He is specialized in Buddhist Studies, Pali, Sanskrit, English literature and linguistics, and is vastly experienced as a Buddhist monk over three decades. He has presented a number of research papers in different national and international conferences too and is engaged in socio-religious activities to promote peace, harmony and humanity. He is also engaged in conducting meditation programs and Dhamma talks in the Los Angeles area.
He will perform the following chants in Berkeley: Buddha Vandana, Dhamma Vandana, Saṅgha Vandana, Maṅgala Sutta, Ratana Sutta, Karaṇīya Metta Sutta, Atthavīsati Paritta, Jaya Maṅgala Gāthā, Mahā Jayamaṅgala Gāthā, Jinapañjara Gāthā, and Jaya Paritta.




Alumni House is located on the south side of the UC Berkeley campus, east of the Haas Pavilion, north of Zellerbach Hall, and southwest of Dwinelle Hall. The nearest off-campus intersection is Bancroft Way and Dana St, which is just downhill from the intersection of Telegraph Ave and Bancroft Way.



Zellerbach Playhouse is located directly across from the Alumni House on south side of the UC Berkeley campus, east of the Haas Pavilion, south of Alumni Hall, and southwest of Dwinelle Hall. The nearest off-campus intersection is Bancroft Way and Dana St, which is just downhill from the intersection of Telegraph Ave and Bancroft Way.

Directions from BART
Exit Bart Station onto Shattuck Ave.
Walk south on Shattuck three blocks to Bancroft Way.
Turn left on Bancroft and go up the hill along the south edge of campus—passing by the following streets on the right: Fulton and Ellsworth.
Arrive at Bancroft and Dana St and turn left onto the campus.
You’ll see Haas Pavilion (basketball) on your left.
Alumni House is across from Haas Pavilion.

Public parking near Alumni House can be found at the following lots:
RSF Garage
Telegraph Channing Garage