Bhutanese Master Artists
Here are some sample documentary projects with master musicians that were completed thanks to the generous support of our donors. We urgently need help to fund further projects. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please see our sponsor page.
Bhutan's most famous female vocalist
Born in the village of Dangla Gyemba in Trongsa, Aum Thinlem closely served the Third King (1952–1972), and later continued as a professional singer as an employee of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service and instructor at the Royal Academy of Performing Arts.
The Nation's patriarch of Drangyen, the iconic Bhutanese lute
Aup Dawpey is from the village of Talo Nubgang in Punakha and remains the foremost authority on Talo's especially rich music traditions. He is the only musician to receive the Thugsey ("son of Bhutan") medal, awarded by the King of Bhutan for outstanding service to his country.
Aum Tshewang Lham
The late Aum Tshewang Lham was a renowned vocalist from Paro who served the Third King for four years. She was one of a select group of musicians (that also include Aum Thinlem and Aup Dawpey) sent by His Majesty to Calcutta, India in 1968 to record the first album of Bhutanese traditional music.
Aup Tsheten Dorji
A Tibetan-born musician who fled to Bhutan in 1960 and served the Third King for over a decade. Aup Tsheten Dorji introduced and popularized many songs from Tibet and also became a prolific composer. Two of his songs commemorate Bhutan's entry into the United Nations in 1971 and the Coronation of the Fifth King in 2008.
Esteemed song authority and composer
With a long career in government service, Aup Dengo now leads the private troop Phunsum Drayang, based in Paro, which performs folk and masked dances. The troop provides employment for its youth members and teaches them the value of culture.
Keeper of Rare Songs
The only singer who retains perfect knowledge of the Tangsebji version of the zheym, a song dating from the 17th century performed only by women. She learned it from her mother, a prominent singer during the era of the Second King (1926–1952).