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Sacred Arts, Ancient Sounds

An interfaith religion special will be broadcast Sunday, June 25 (8-8:30 AM, ET; 5-5:30 PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Washington, June 20, 2006 The Men and Boys Cathedral Choir at the National Cathedral is featured Sunday in a CBS religion special, Sacred Arts, Ancient Sounds.

The choir's Evensong performance features interviews with the Cathedral Director of Music, Michael McCarthy, as well as Reverend Canon Carol L. Wade, the Canon Precentor, who discuss how music in religious service enhances the experience and serves as a form of prayer for the worshiper.

The program, produced with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America and a consortium of Jewish organizations, looks at how the arts are manifested in different religious cultures. 

The program features a performance by the Multiphonic Singers of Drepung Loseling Monastery, a group of Tibetan monks living in exile in Southern India.  The monks are currently on tour in the United States as part of "The Mystical Arts of Tibet Tour for World Healing."  Multiphonic singing intones three notes at once creating the sound of a complete chord.  The effect is achieved through the manipulation of the vocal cavity, and the ability to reshape it while singing, which creates a unique and eerie sound.  The monks have achieved worldwide recognition for their mastery of this art form. 

In addition, the art of sand mandala-painting, where grains of varied colored sands are painstakingly used to create a great design and when completed, the art work is destroyed.  According to the Buddhist texts, it is meant to symbolize the impermanence of all things.  It is believed that its construction creates healing energy for all the world.  An interview with the Venerable Thupten Chosang-la explains the basic tenets of Buddhism and how they are reflected in the various rituals of this Eastern faith tradition. 

In the Islamic tradition, the art of 'beautiful writing,' or calligraphy, is considered a sacred form of art.  Calligraphers throughout history have long been held in high esteem for their transcriptions of the Qu'ran, the sacred text of the Islamic faith.  The program interviews Mohamed Zakariya, one of the world's distinguished Islamic calligraphers.  While his work was most widely seen in the United States ("EID" postage stamp in October 2001), Zakariya's work has been featured in art museums and galleries around the world.  The artist discusses the meaning behind this ancient art form, how he came to it and he demonstrates some of the techniques. 

Lisa Sokolov is a New York jazz vocalist, improviser and composer, who was inspired to become a Jewish Cantor, when her son was studying for his Bar Mitzvah.  She talks candidly about what inspires her and how artistic expression, whether it is singing in a nightclub, or during a Jewish high holiday, is a form of spiritual practice.  Ms. Soko speaks of her love of jazz, but it is within the Jewish service that she finds the opportunity…" to be unabashed…in praising this incredible creation."

 John P. Blessington is executive producer of the special; Liz Kineke is the producer. 

Press Contact:  Jeremy Murphy, 212-975-4577,
Contact NCC News: Daniel Webster 212-870-2252,

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