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Thimphu, BT

Sonam Dorji, Executive Director of the Music of Bhutan Research Centre, is a master musician, vocalist, and composer who plays several instruments native to Bhutan and India. Originally from the village of Kaktong, Zhemgang district, Mr. Dorji moved to Thimphu as a child and studied drangyen under the primary elders of Bhutanese folk tradition, including Dasho Aku Tongmi and Ap Dawpey. At 15 he began composing his own songs and he soon gained fame on national radio. After high school he spent ten years in India studying Indian music and graduated first in his class in the master’s degree music program at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. He also released a string of well-received lu-saar 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 Dorji through his soundtrack contributions to the acclaimed Bhutanese film, Travellers and Magicians (2004), his 2014 CD release, on Smithsonian Folkways, and his appearances at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. (2008) and in the pan-Asian ensemble led by Arun Ghosh at the London BT River of Music Festival for the Summer Olympic Games (2012).

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