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The Lost City of Shambhala

Commissioned by the Association for Music in International Schools' 2019 High School Honor Band,

as a gift from Robert Bethea.

Directed by Dr. Richard Mark Heidel, Salzburg, Austria

Jeremy Bell
The Lost City of

"Behind snowy peaks, somewhere to the North, lies a Mystical Kingdom, where a line of Enlightened Kings is guarding the innermost teachings of Buddhism for a time when all truth in the outside world is lost in war and greed. Then, the King of Shambhala will emerge with a great army to destroy the forces of evil and bring in a new Golden Age."

The history and lore surrounding the city of Shambhala are incredibly fascinating.  Also known by several other names such as "Shangri-La" and "Agharta", Shambhala is a Sanskrit word that means "place of peace."  It as paradise, a place of enlightenment, only accessible by someone with a pure heart and supposedly located in the mountainous regions of Eurasia, often believed to be more specifically hidden in the Himalayas of Tibet.

According to its history, Shambhala is ruled over by Maitreya, the future Buddha, and the Kalachakra tantra prophies believe that when the world falls in war, greed, and despair, the 25th Kalki king will lead an army to vanquish the "Dark Forces" of the world an usher in a Golden Era of peace and prosperity.

The idea for this piece stems from my interest in the mythologies of different cultures, and I plan to write two more pieces about mythical cities, one about Atlantis, and the final about El Dorado, Asgard, or Alfheim.

Since I'm heavily influenced by video games, a lot of the ideas for the structure and material for this piece came from playing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (which the video below is taken from). In the game, the heroes are looking for Shambhala to find the coveted Cintamani Stone, which is believed to grant wishes or contains the power to grant eternal life, much like the Western alchemic version of the Philosopher's Stone.  Once they discover Shambhala, a beautiful, Eden-esque landscape surrounded by snowy mountains is revealed to them in a hidden valley.


Not long after their discovery, however, they are greeted by the inhabitants of Shambhala as invaders and the quest to find the Cintamani Stone becomes a battle for their lives and a fight to stop the antagonist from acquiring the power of the stone.  In the ensuing firefight, the city is destroyed and heroes escape.


The Lost City of Shambhala is published by C.L. Barnhouse in their 2019 Concert Band catalog.

The Lost City of Shambhala was commissioned by the Association for Music in International Schools' (AMIS) 2019 High School Honor as a gift from Robert Bethea, was received its world premiere on the 16th of February 2019 in Salzburg, Austria under the direction of Dr. Richard Mark Heidel.  The video of their performance can be seen in the youtube video below.

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