Tom Schmidt is director and founder of Tödröl Drangchar Music. Born in Hoboken, NJ he began studying and performing music at age eight and continues today with the practice and teaching of Tibetan sacred insruments to western students. He studied the bass violin for three years under jazz master Charlie Haden from 1970-72 and Alvin Brehm of the New York Philharmonic in the fall of 1972. In January 1973 he moved to Woodstock, New York where he joined the Gene Dinwiddie Quartet and studied another year with Miles Davis bassist, Dave Holland.
Notable musicians Tom has worked and/or recorded with are Bob Moses, Ingrid Sertso, Sam Rivers, Jane Scarpantoni, Jathiya Abdul Samad, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Munir Abdul Fatah, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Jeff Buckley, Kenny Wessel, Cyro Babtista, Juma Santos, Garrett List, Buckethead, Steve Gorn, Lee Konitz, Claude Ranger, Dave Liebman, Eric Kloss, Ed Blackwell, Steve Haas, Barry Altschul, ‘Killer’ Ray Appleton, Philip Wilson, Dan Brubeck, Carlos Ward, Peter Apfelbaum, Jeanne Lee, Perry Robinson, Betty MacDonald, Franklin Kiermyer, Don Byron, David Sancious, John Lindberg, Frederic Rzewski, Tani Tabbal, Jerry Granelli and Tibetan musicians Dhondup Namgyal Khorko and Penpa Tsering of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA).
During the summers of 1975 and 1976 he assited and performed in workshops and concerts at Naropa University in Boulder Colorado where a connection with Tibetan Buddhism was established. Today he works with Bob Moses, Larry Chernicoff, Taino Clave Mundial, Bell’Accordo and Tibetan Choyang.
Karmae Thegsum Choyang Music performed the opening ceremonies of Woodstock ’94 playing traditional Tibetan liturgical music for an audience of more than 300,000 people. In 1997, Schmidt acted as liaison between the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery and Martin Scorsese’s film Kundun, about the life of the XIV Dalai Lama, when scenes were shot in the main shrine room of the monastery.
In the summer of 1999 Schmidt traveled to Tibet, China, Nepal, and India to further his research of Kagyu sacred music and recorded ceremonies at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. On December 28th 2001, Tom recorded the Karma Pakshi Chant with His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa and 3000 monks in Bodhgaya India, under the Bodhi tree where Lord Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment.
In 2004, Schmidt produced a benefit concert for Karma Triyana Dharmachakra that included Philip Glass as principle guest artist, in 2005 a second benefit concert with Laurie Anderson and in 2008 a third with Jack DeJohnette & Pat Metheny.
Also in 2008, Tom produced a CD for singer-songwriter Kesang Marstrand entitled “Bodega Rose”. Schmidt’s Tibetan musical studies have been guided by Lama Tashi Dhondup, Lama Yeshe Namdag, and Umdze Lodro Samphel, principle chant master of the Rumtek Monastery. He serves as private secretary to Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, corporate secretary for The Karma Kagyu Institute and is a voting member of the Recording Academy (Grammys).