I was honoured to be asked to play my new fleet of Tibetan Singing Bowls in St. Mary's Church, to open the Rhythms Of The World festival in Hitchin on Saturday and Sunday 10-11 July 2004 at 12:30, to create some peaceful vibes for the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, The Venerable Samitha, who was to welcome in the festival by chanting for peace. Having a walk round this large space, I realised that a team of players would be so much more effective than just me. So I rounded up some fellow Spin Bowlers to don our whites and bowl for the county.
We began out of sight at the east (altar) end of the church, as Darrenji gave a loud conch call to announce the start of the proceedings. Then two groups of bowlers walked slowly forwards towards the main area of the church while stroking the bowl they were carrying, three people down each side aisle while I went down the centre to the pulpit. Once they had reached the audience sat in the pews, one of each group continued to the back of the church, one moved to join me in the centre and the other stayed at the front corner. I had selected the bowls to form a wide chord of D Major spanning four octaves, so now we had a nice 6.1 surround sound arrangement, with me providing the sub-bass on a very low D fundamental tone, two other centre players and four corner satellites. At the sound of a gong, the four satellites then processed in a clockwise direction to the next corner, mirroring the stroking motion of the wand around each bowl, while those of us at the front played various chimes, tingshaws and small Panic Bowls. Upon reaching the next corner, the satellite players would strike a chime to signal their arrival; once everyone was there, they would move round again, until all four corners had been visited.
During this time, I moved down the central aisle to the Font, inside which I had earlier symbolically placed a large Fountain Bowl and a 1.5 litre bottle of water. I took the bottle and ceremonially poured the water into the bowl, then walked back to the front while stroking it, causing showers of tiny water droplets to leap magically out of the bowl for all to see. Then I transferred a tiny amount of water into another Water Bowl which creates unearthly moaning sounds when tilted and struck as the water sloshes around inside.
By now, the satellites were regrouping and moving to join us in the centre, arranged in a line of height (and pitch) order. Ian's cool idea was to crossfade from high to low pitch, fading out as our neighbours grew in volume and vice versa, like a Mexican wave. Finally, to end, we all walked back down the aisle and fanned out alternatively left and right like a country dance, behind the audience and back up the sides to the altar where we had begun.
Hopefully by now, the people's ears were suitably opened and their hearts and minds suitably quietened enough to better experience the wonderful chanting of the monks, which was deeply moving. They asked us to contemplate the suffering of people around the world, and as they sang I envisaged bright rays of Hope and Understanding travelling out of the church, encircling the Earth and touching the spirits of those in need.
Afterwards our performance was warmly received, with lots of complementary comments; for many present, this was the first time they had seen/heard/felt the magical effects of the bowls. Big thanks to those who took part: Ian, Roberto, Patrick, Jane, Helen, Jess, Darrenji, and to Rob Norris and Joe for photography. We hope to return in 2005...
While on holiday with Vitae Drum Circle, I set up an installation piece in a swimming pool and gave a performance for bowls, voices and swimmers called Cosmic Sound Chamber.
On 2007-07-17 there was a planet-wide meditation session to Fire The Grid and bring about healing of the Earth. My bowls took part using their magical sounds to transmute suffering and reveal new life forces growing within.
Other outings for my bowls include work with The Naked Truth and some solo projects.
The Bowl Garden was open for viewing at Garden Party #1 on Sunday 2007-09-23, and the bowls were used to accompany Ruth singing.
See the Workshops page for information about other bowl events I do.
In August 2006 I was lucky enough to catch a masterly
Frank Perry in Cambridge. In 2010 I attended some lovely concerts
and a workshop by
Michael Ormiston and
Be sure to check out Jem Finer's Longplayer.
© copyright Malcolm Smith 2004-07-15 - last updated 2014-05-15 - links verified 2004-07-15