Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    Good Vibrations

    Richard Hite approaches the three large gongs, kneeling reverentially and nestles in among the bells, conch shells, Tibetan temple horns and goat horns on the floor. He reaches up with a mallet, and with a feathery touch begins priming one gong with an arcing motion across the textured brass. The result is a continuous low drone that resonates deep into the skin. With his other hand he gives a second gong a glancing blow, the direct tone weaving into the undulating tones of the first.

    "Playing the instrument regularly is as much a practice of my own spiritual path as anything else I do," says the 57-year-old Hite. "For me, it's a meeting with God, it's an expression of gratitude. I had a God experience the first time I heard one."

    Hite and his partner of 20 years, physical therapist Susan Thompson, are living at the Embracing Simplicity Hermitage in Hendersonville while preparing for a concert at the Light Center in Black Mountain on April 25. "We don't have a plan after that," he says with astounding faith.