Love of Music is our Bond!
A Celebration of Christmas in Music and Dance
Photos Michael Vogt
As the days get closer to Christmas and the reality hits
you that the real Christmas mood really is just a snowflake away, it is nice
to know that there are people in town who take the effort to practice and
rehearse Christmas songs to show that the real Christmas spirit does not
need snow or ice, but is created in our heart.
and Pun-Pun worked perfectly together. A superb musical stage set.
Since the spring concert in May 2003 was a sold out
affair and the space just too small for the music lovers, the Chiang Mai
Choral Society (CMCS) decided not only to extend the space, but to use the
great aura of Gongdee Studios again, but on two consecutive nights.
During the 5 years of its existence, its reputation has
spread and the Choral Society events are some of the most anticipated events
of the year, and on Saturday they proved to be worthy of all the hype.
They began with a a selection of hymns such as ‘God So
Loved’, ‘Holy Child’ or ‘Softly the Stars were Shining’ with a
solo by Audra Philipps whose clear voice captured the attention of the
audience, despite the colorful costumes of the choir, the sparkle of the
Xmas tree, and the flying fingers of pianist David Wilson.
The audience enraptured when 10 year old Pun-Pun (Pitcha
Tanuparprungsum) joined in during ‘Away in a Manger’, looking like a
small Christmas angel herself in her long golden dress.
The second part of the program could easily be called the
fun part, since it was music, entertainment, theater, dance, and Anne
Dawson. The stage set had changed during the intermission to a living room,
a grandmother chair, and Anne sitting with the ‘girl from next door’
(Pun-Pun), when the soft singing of ‘caroling caroling’ could be heard
off stage. The choir entered and the second part was more like a play with
the interaction of the choir with Anne, the conductor, the audience, and a
duet between Ellen and Richard “Frankie-boy” Dixon, setting the tone for
the incredible second part.
‘Jingle Bells’ afterwards got the audience joining
in, clapping and laughing, while director Rainy Riding glowed with joy as
everybody could see already what kind of success this evening was turning
out to be.
After a piano solo of the multi-talented little Pun-Pun,
a children’s ballet group from Aree School of Dance Arts followed, enjoyed
by all. Dancing excerpts from the Nutcracker Suite, the grace of some of the
mini-ballerinas left some spectators almost in tears.
To get back in the spirit, Anne Dawson read a story from
the visit of St. Nicholas, and with the ballet children snuggling up to
Anne, the choir attentively listening, and suddenly Santa walking in on it,
looking as if he were straight out of a fairy tale, everyone was imbued with
the spirit of Xmas.
The night ended with a united ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’, a
night to remember - the music, the spirit, the feelings of love, the true
meaning of Xmas, the bonds of friendship of the Choral Society. Everyone
left with the feeling of goodwill to all people.
Dixon, a living reincarnation of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, sang ‘Have
yourself a merry little Christmas’.
looked like straight out of a fairy tale - but where were the reindeers?
Pongcharoenkul spoke on behalf of the CMCS members to thank the audience for
their contributions towards the less fortunate.
School of Dance Arts came with 12 little ballerinas who danced an excerpt
from the Nutcracker Suite.
‘living room’ on stage with the choir already in the festive joyful
Dawson reading the story of St. Nicholas
Santa’ featured by the women’s octet with David Wilson on the piano.
what Santa brought for the children in Chiang Mai? YES! Of course! Little
(Pitcha Tanuparprungsum) during the hymns, singing ‘Away in a Manger’.
Lampang Ceramics: Internal Disorder and External Threats
Comment on an important local industry
Alexei Andre Waters with
Research assistance by Chayapat Ratchatawipasanan, Bunyawat Witthayalai
The 16th Ceramics Fair in Lampang produced the greatest
variety ever of ceramic products for the domestic market and for export,
according the Lampang Ceramics Association. The estimated 220,000 visitors
who attended the fair, held from December 2-10, generated about 20 million
baht in revenue for the Lampang ceramics industry.
usual sight of people shopping during the fair.
Beneath the surface of success, however, lie some serious
threats to the future survival of the ceramics industry. Among the problems
affecting the industry are unsophisticated marketing arrangements,
investment bottlenecks, dated technology, labor recruitment problems, rising
labor costs, the affects of Asian Free Trade Agreements and heightened
competition from China.
In 2001, Lampang had 258 registered ceramics companies
with 9,258 workers and officially generated 6.9 billion baht, according to
data from the Ministry of Commerce. Only 11 ceramic companies in Lampang
export their ceramic products, reflecting the serious imbalance between
domestic and export sales. Data from the Board of Investment indicate that
about 80 percent of Thai ceramics are produced for the domestic market and
only 20 percent for export. The main contributors to this production
imbalance are low levels of capitalization, limited investment in research
and development, poor designs and relatively high labor costs in comparison
with Malaysia, Indonesia and of course, China.
is a typical Issan style pattern, even if it looks Chinese on first sight.
In “The Comparative Advantage of the Ceramic Industry
in Thailand,” submitted by Nukprach Chaiyanount in 1998 to Chiang Mai
University for his M.A. thesis in Economics, he argued that Lampang produced
bowl ceramics, railing and souvenir ceramic products, and although the least
capital intensive, were the most cost efficient. Yet, his survey of Lampang
ceramic factories indicated that unless Thais could produce their own high
quality processing machines instead of relying on expensive imports and Thai
export regulatory restrictions were reduced, it would become increasingly
harder for Thailand to succeed.
class porcelain which can be seen in many 5 star hotels around the world.
As the current Quadrangle Expo in Chiang Mai suggested,
China’s shadow over northern Thailand is growing. Particularly in recent
years, competition from China has had a negative impact on the Thai ceramics
industry, affecting Lampang severely. For example, data released by the Thai
Customs Department reveals that from January to October 2001, Chinese
ceramic imports to Thailand were valued at over 319 million baht. During the
same period two years later, the value of Chinese ceramic imports increased
3.2 times to over 1 billion baht.
angel is mostly exported to Europe, but it can be also spotted at houses of
rich Chinese families.
However, China’s lower labor costs and better designs
are hardly the full story. Far more important is that Chinese companies are
now gaining access to Thai kaolinite (white clay) in Lampang, refining it in
China, creating various products that are then trans-shipped to Thailand.
Despite high import tariffs, the cost is still cheaper and the designs are
Obtaining data on the ceramics industry in Thailand is
difficult, doubly so for Lampang. The Lampang Ceramics Association collects
no data from its members and neither does the Lampang Provincial Statistics
Office and the Lampang Provincial Industrial Office have any data. Thus, the
three most reliable sources of macro-economic data on Thailand’s ceramics
industry can be obtained from the Bank of Thailand, The Thai Customs
Department, and the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Business
Economics. But the data collection process is far from efficient. For
example, the Bank of Thailand essentially compiles data from the Board of
Investment, the Trade and Economic Information Centre in cooperation with
the Thai Customs Department and frequently obtains information from
periodicals such as the Thai language Prachchat Business Newspaper.
Under-reporting is a persistent problem and that makes it necessary for the
Bank of Thailand to conduct periodic surveys of informal trade in many
different industrial sectors.
The data collection process would be facilitated through
a more transparent system at the firm level, but there is little enthusiasm
among Lampang ceramic company owners to release their data. Besides banning
photographs of factories or providing tours of their facilities, they also
refuse to disclose rather mundane statistics on changes in export
percentages by year and geographic region. “This is top secret
information,” said a spokesman for the second largest ceramics company in
Lampang. Other companies fail to respond to emails, formal letters and phone
calls made in both English and Thai.
To place this unusually high degree of reticence in
perspective, it is relatively easy to obtain permission to visit Thai
schools and universities, review data on student performance, academic
resources and pedagogical practices. The same applies with hospitals, and
industries as diverse as computers and telecommunications. Even more
surprising is that requests for information from the Chinese Ceramic Society
and the Yunnan Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and National
Bureau of Statistics of China resulted in provincial level data within 48
Though exact reasons for the overly secretive nature of
companies are nearly impossible to fathom, part of the problem may be that
craft labor production has only recently assumed a higher profile in
Thailand under the leadership of the Prime Minister Thaksin. Promotion of
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) is the new business catchword with
conferences and research forums proliferating in Chiang Mai and throughout
the kingdom. The One Tambon One Product (OTOP) initiative is making some
progress but has not resulted in greater economies of scale according to the
2002 Bangkok Post Mid Year Economic Review. The majority of the ceramic
companies in Lampang have fewer than 20 employees, some have 50 and only the
top 11 have more than 500 employees.
This is far different from craft labor production in England, France,
Germany and Italy that historically was organized though guilds that became
important politically during various phases of the first and second
Thai Ceramic Exports (Millions of
Jan 2003....... 1,824
Feb 2003 .........1,610
Mar 2003 .........2,330
Apr 2003.......... 1,579
May 2003 ..........1,696
Source: Bank of Thailand
Luminous Anonymity-a feast for the eyes
Gallery Opening at THE HOUSE
“The artist begins with a vision-a creative operation
requiring an effort. Creativity takes courage,” (Henri Matisse).
Matisse’s words ring true when looking at the recent exhibition of
Austrian artist Doris Kraushaar. Doris is everything - courageous and
creative, she has visions, and she makes an effort to combine and capture
her moods in her paintings.
left: Monika Weber, Kornchai, Ulrike and Narissa Thitasuta.
The night of the opening of her 5th Solo exhibition drew
over 200 people, who were impressed again with the ambience that Hans B.
Christensen, Managing Director of THE HOUSE, had yet again created. They
could have chosen no one better than Doris Kraushaar, who has worked and
lived in Chiang Mai for many years, as their first exhibitor.
Kraushaar, Hans B. Christensen, Managing Director of THE HOUSE, sharing a
light moment with Dr. Herbert Traxl, Austrian Ambassador to Thailand. (photo
by Phisut Itsaracheewawat)
The presentation of the work with the color contrast of
warm and cool colors on the starkness of bare white walls emphasized the
strong lines of each form.
L): Dr. Herbert Traxl, Austrian Ambassador to Thailand; Doris Kraushaar,
next to her the secretary at Dance for Life Academy; M.L. Preeyapun
Sridhavat, Owner-Director of Chiangmai Ballet Academy and Honorary Consul to
Peru; and Hagen Dirksen, Hon. Consul of the Fed. Republic of Germany to
Doris herself was very excited about the attention this
exhibition has drawn from the Chiang Mai Community.
The Austrian Ambassador, Dr. Herbert Traxl, came from
Bangkok, and combined this official opening with his first visit to the
North. When you consider that only five Austrians are registered as living
in the Chiang Mai area, the honor to have Dr. Traxl flying up was even
from Horeca Supplies with a friend, and Rudy van den Berg, posing in front
of the colorful oil on wood painting ‘Comet in my garden’.
In this recent exhibition Doris’ paintings are filled
with expressive energy and movement, as can be seen in a red Oil on Wood
painting, named ‘Bouncing’. This time, all her paintings are very
colorful compared to her prior work.
Noticing Doris bouncing through the gallery, talking here
and listening there, you know that her paintings come from the heart, that
she created them from within, allowing colors, shapes and motions to have a
life of their own. Watching her talking to her three daughters you can feel
that she is a person who creates an environment around herself that
encourages self-expression and the freedom to create whatever the heart
It was no surprise that by the end of the evening a
number of her works showed the sticker ‘sold’.
Illuminated colored dreams, Art exhibition, can be seen at THE HOUSE
until December 31.
Pai is a dream town in the mist
A must for adventurers traveling to Mae Hon Son
Pai is small district town, situated in the Mae Hong Son
provincial area, about 136 km northwest of Chiang Mai City. The road there
was very long and tortuous and entails a 4-6 hr bus trip, or by bumpy pickup
truck for 4 hours, orby motorbike, if you are a real adventurer.
In the past, Pai was not a well known tourist town but it
is now becoming a popular place to visit because of its rural and primitive
charms, as almost 80 percent of the Pai people are farmers. On the way to
Pai you will see ox and water buffaloes beside the zig-zag road leading to
Mae Hong Son.
has changed the way of life in Pai .
There are interesting places en route, including the Mok
Fa waterfalls, one of the highest waterfalls in the North, as well as Pong
Duad, one of the largest hot springs in Thailand, and the Huay Nam Dang
National park with its beautiful mountain views and scenery.
foreigners in Pai.
Night time in Pai is another adventure as you should not
turn on too many lights because they will invite insects to join you. A
romantic small candle is more suitable.
This year, during the high tourist season, there are many foreigners
visiting the area. Kathrin Sele, 25, from Switzerland, told Chiangmai Mail
that although Switzerland is full of beautiful mountains and landscapes, Pai
has something different and special. “I want to see the different cultures
and ways of life here,” said Kathrin. “I can go trekking, rafting,
elephant riding, and have other adventures, there are so many things to do
in Pai. Moreover, there is plentiful cheap accommodation such as guesthouses
and bamboo huts on offer here,” Kathrin concluded.