Mr. Tashi Norbu is a pioneer who is the first private citizen in Bhutan to be engaged in preserving and maintaining traditional culture, primarily music. Located in the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan, with a population of 700,000, has developed a traditional culture under the great influence of Tibetan Buddhism. The country's policy is to protect its traditional culture and natural environment, but globalization has gradually brought about change in Bhutanese society. This has had a major impact on the music that has been handed down as an activity of the people.
Mr. Tashi Norbu developed a great interest in traditional Bhutanese music under the tutelage of his father, a musician and dancer. Alarmed that the country's traditional music would disappear due to the strong influence of music from overseas, he formed Tashi Nencha, the first private group featuring traditional music in Bhutan in 1987. At that time, the Royal Academy of Performing Arts already existed for the preservation and development of folk music and dance, but it was a truly groundbreaking step for an individual to form a group for this purpose.
In the 1990s, as "rigsar" (popular songs and music) enjoyed widespread popularity, Mr. Tashi Norbu consistently preached the importance of preserving traditional music. As the director of Tashi Nencha, he assiduously continued his activities of passing the music on to the younger generation. Song and dance are inseparable parts of traditional Bhutanese music, so he incorporated dance in the group's activities in 1995. Working primarily in the central part of the country, he is striving to recreate the traditions as meticulously as possible to preserve music and dance that had not been recorded in the country. He is devoting a great deal of energy to developing traditional music, including attempts to improve the musical instruments, with the objective of improving the musicality while maintaining the tradition.
Fulfilling the role as a cultural ambassador from the private sector, Mr. Tashi Norbu has given several performances overseas as the leader of Tashi Nencha, bringing traditional Bhutanese music, and therefore the distinctive aspects of Bhutanese traditional culture, to the world. Moreover, he has made a significant contribution to recording and preserving culture on film by producing "Folk Songs of Bhutan", the first documentary created by an individual Bhutanese.
Mr. Tashi Norbu has passionately continued his activities as a private citizen working to protect and hand down traditional music as it rapidly changes with the trends of contemporary civilization. For this reason, he is a worthy laureate of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.