Tenzin Choegyal

Artist / Activist

Tenzin Choegyal is a Tibetan artist, composer, activist, musical director, and cultural ambassador. Born to a family of Tibetan nomads, Tenzin Choegyal was forced into exile in India as his family fled the repression in Tibet. As a child, Tenzin would listen to his mother singing in the nomadic style and he attributes much of his passion for that genre to her early influence. Tenzin channels the wisdom and traditions of his ancestors through his songs. Known for his soaring vocals and circling rhythms, he has forged a successful international career as a musician, playing at such prestigious events as WOMAD, as well as several concerts for Tibet House US at Carnegie Hall, New York.


Tenzin has collaborated with musicians from diverse cultures, traditions, and genres, from classical western (chamber orchestra Camerata of St John’s), to contemporary (Philip Glass), to ancient traditional (didgeridoo master William Barton). Tenzin has six independent album releases and recently collaborated with Philip Glass on the score for the film ‘The Last Dalai Lama?’. Together with Laurie Anderson and Jesse Paris Smith, Tenzin is presently working on a unique interpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead which is due for release by the Smithsonian Institution in the coming months.

In 2008, Tenzin founded the annual Festival of Tibet in Brisbane, Australia, which showcases Tibetan culture through music, film, art, and discussion and is artistic director of the Brisbane Himalayan Film Festival. In 2015, in his role as ambassador for the Australian Himalayan Foundation, Tenzin travelled to the border of Tibet on the Nepalese side, the closest he has come since exile to his ancestral homeland. Keenly aware of the environmental challenges facing Tibet, as the ancient glaciers melt and old growth forests are destroyed, he is a passionate supporter of Pathway to Paris.

“I became aware of global warming and the importance of nurturing our planet as a child growing up in the exiled Tibetan Children’s Village School on the foothills of the Himalayas in India under the patronage of HH the Dalai Lama. I grew up hearing Tibet being referred to as the roof of the world, so my natural thought as a child was that we need to keep this roof intact. “If the roof leaks what would we do?” – this is not just a question for a single individual or an entire nation. This is a question for humanity. Our world is our home, and it is vital to take an active role in protecting our planet, including the Tibetan plateau – the Roof of the World.  

The Himalayas are also known as the Third Pole, being covered in snow and ice that are particularly susceptible to climate change and they are indeed melting at a very fast rate. As the Tibetan plateau feeds seven major rivers that run through China, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, these dramatic and strongly visible changes affect numerous countries across and beyond the Indian sub-continent. Tibetan nomads are the custodians of the alpine pastures with centuries of knowledge and experience. With China’s policies negatively impacting not only Tibet’s natural environment but numerous countries, I shoulder this concern with pathway to Paris passionately.

Climate change does not see human created political borders, it is a global challenge which needs solidarity from people of all walks of life. Pathway to Paris, founded by Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, brings together an amazing collaboration between musicians, artists, sustainability consultants, cities and activists to highlight solutions to climate change. It seeks to turn the Paris Agreement into real action, as our responsibility is to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it.

For these reasons, I am passionate about joining the Pathway to Paris project.

Mother Nature has grown weary of our selfish disregard for all she tries to offer and she is angry.

I fear for the earth my grandchild will inherit, as I can’t imagine her life will be anything approaching the hopes we have for her and the shining dreams she may have for herself.

We won’t know if it’s too late for radical action to keep this globe inhabitable unless we try it. I’m pleased to be a part of this evening’s wake-up call to all people who cherish the sound of a meadowlark and who are willing to fight for its right to sing.”

– Tenzin Choegyal