Kheng Sonam Dorji, M.M.
Sonam Dorji is a master musician, vocalist, and composer who
plays several instruments native to Bhutan and India. Originally
from the village of Kaktong, Zhemgang District, Sonam moved to
Thimphu as a child and studied drangyen under the primary
elders of Bhutanese folk tradition, including Aku Tongmi. At 15 he
began composing his own songs and he soon gained fame on national radio. After high school
he spent 10 years in India intensively studying Indian music and earned
a master’s degree. He has also released a string of hit rigsar (Bhutanese pop)
albums and composed the first-ever nationally broadcast song in Khengpa,
his native language, which earned him the name “Kheng” Sonam Dorji.
International audiences know Sonam through his soundtrack contributions
to the acclaimed Bhutanese film, Travellers and Magicians (2004) and
his appearances at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in Washington D.C. (2008) and the
BT River of Music Festival in London with Arun Ghosh for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Sonam’s ultimate goals are to document the music of Bhutan and to preserve
and nourish its indigenous musical culture.
Advisory Board in Thimphu
Dasho Shera Lhundup
Chief Executive Counsel, Syang Law Chamber
Managing Director of Mila Communication
Vice Principal, YHS
Managing Director of Khuju Luyang
Board of Directors in Santa Cruz, CA
Jane Hancock, President
Photographer and retired teacher
Janet Herman, Ph.D., Secretary
Shelley Phillips, M.M. Treasurer
Executive Director, Community Music School
All three U.S. board members come from the world of music and education programming and have
extensive non-profit experience.
Ms. Hancock and Dr. Herman help create and distribute MBRC educational materials outside Bhutan
and have conducted multi-media presentations on Bhutanese traditional music and
culture in the U.S. and Europe to raise awareness of MBRC's mission.