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Sounds of Artown: Chanting at Reno Buddhist Center


After sponsoring a month’s worth of special events in Reno, Artown wrapped up Friday. The annual festival includes traditional arts programming like musical concerts and theatrical performances, but Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss found some unexpected attractions as well, like this Buddhist chanting session.


Fifteen barefoot performers are assembled in a horseshoe at the Reno Buddhist Center, kneeling as they chant mantras written thousands of years ago in the ancient Indian languages of Sanskrit and Pali. Chanters range in age from ten to sixty-five and they’re all here for different reasons:

“I feel like the purpose of chanting is to center myself, to focus, and to get grounded.” - Church Priest Shelley Fisher
On the most basic physiological level, we’re breathing. And we’re doing that together, so our breath and the breath of others and the breath of the universe are all kind of connected in the chant.” - Church Priest Matthew Fisher
“When we grow spiritually as human beings, we become more compassionate people; we become more peaceful, more kind, and we can spread that energy to others.” - Chanter Julie Hodges

Shelley Fisher and her husband Matthew, along with Julie Hodges, performed an hour of Buddhist chanting for this year’s Artown.

Michelle Billman is the news director at KUNR Public Radio in Reno, Nevada where she oversees a scrappy crew of multimedia storytellers. She’s a transplant from the East Coast, where she earned degrees in creative writing and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Virginia Tech.
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