Ngawang Choephel: For Love of Music

He tried to save endangered Tibetan culture. Now his life is on the line

Growing up in the Tibetan refugee settlement of Mundgod in southern India, Ngawang Choephel was enthralled by the music of the land he had left behind. He had fled in 1968, when his mother Sonam Dekyi carried the two-year-old Choephel on her back through the Himalayas to India, and he found that traditional music was just about the only link he had to home. As a teen, he made a dranyan (a six-stringed lute) from a gourd and fishing line and taught himself to play. In 1992, after graduating from the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India, Choephel earned...

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