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Prem’s first International Baccalaureates

Roaring thunder combined with roaring applause

Chamber Music Concert at the Four Seasons

Prem’s first International Baccalaureates

Prem Tinsulanonda International School Graduation 2004

Marion Vogt
Photos Michael Vogt

Creativity, Action, and Service, were the important requirements for the first class of the Prem Tinsulanonda International School to receive the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. 16 students, representing 14 nationalities graduated on Friday, May 28, 2004.

H.E. Prem Tinsulanonda pointed out that the young are the future and the hope of the new world.

The Prem Center auditorium was filled with teachers, friends, students and parents who wanted to watch this historical milestone in the school’s history. Top student and Academic Award winner, Stephanie Hannah, welcomed the guests saying that everybody had waited for this day to come and the guests now had the opportunity to watch a group of most relaxed and relieved students.

Joseph Malih receiving his diploma from H.E. Prem Tinsulanonda while M.L. Tridhosyuth Devakul approves.

Student presidents, Naomi Hossain (Citizenship Award Winner) and Joseph Malih (Arts and Sports Award Winner) reflected on the hard task the class of 2004 has had from the beginning. As the first ever graduating class, they have always had to act as role models for the whole school and none had ever thought that getting an IB Diploma would be the hardest work they had ever done.

Top student Stephanie Hannah received the Academic Award from M.L. Tridhosyuth Devakul.

Teacher Stephen Keegan, who delivered the tribute to the students, revealed anecdotes showing he really had become not only their teacher but also their friend. He explained to the audience that an IB Diploma not only stresses academic excellence but the development of the whole person. He said, “CAS activities involve a minimal of 170 hours involvement over 2 years (50 hours in each of Creativity and Action, 70 hours of Service) and the class of 2004 have played in virtually every Prem sports team in addition to advancing their skills in extracurricular pursuits like Muay Thai (kick boxing), Taekwando, aerobics and mountain biking. They have created wonderful activities for coaching younger students at Prem and in local schools. They have excelled in various dancing and musical exploits as well as artistic endeavors. But the greatest achievements was their work in community service, teaching the underprivileged, working in orphanages, helping to construct wheelchairs and countless other tasks.” The passion and admiration from Stephen Keegan and also from Lister Hannah, the President of Prem Center was visible in their speeches.

President Lister Hannah congratulated the Class of 2004, “We’re proud of you. Well done!”

Musical interludes were provided by the Grade 12 students themselves, the ‘A Capella Choir’ as well as the huge combined school choir who sang an Irish blessing at the end.

The guest of honor’s address showed his personal pride in the students, who not only met the expectations of their teachers but also set a mark for future generations of students in the school which carries his name. H.E. Prem Tinsulanonda, the president of the Privy Council, and known as ‘Pa Prem’ all over Thailand gave a heartwarming speech. He reflected on the last three years where this school has grown from 70 students to over 300, coming from 37 countries and their outstanding characteristics in the international education. He closed with the words, “Remember that there is more than one way to look at an issue and there is always more than one way to work with a problem and solve it. I want you to go out, discover the world and always remember that you are people of the future and the hope of our world.”

(From left) Nati Laowattana, Hseng Tai Lintner, H.E. Prem Tinsulanonda, M.L. Tridhosyuth Devakul, chairman, board of governors, James Alexander Mackie, Joseph Malih, Charles Jamyang Oliphant of Rossie.

The Class of 2004: (from left) Buhasshini Shivaa Punedran, Stephanie Hannah, Seetala Allison Bell, Naomi Hossain, Phyo Thura Hlaing, Linda Lilly Salvesen, Tanya Witbooi, Saba El Kabir, Erez Gavish, Julian Stannard, Nati Laowattana, Charles Jamyang Oliphant of Rossie, Hseng Tai Lintner, Ampawan Rojanavee, James Alexander Mackie and Joseph Asaf Malih.


Roaring thunder combined with roaring applause

The Spizzwinks(?) a cappella performed at the US Consulate General

Michael Vogt

402 eyes had a very worried look at the canopy of heaven the other night, were they to expect yet another musical treat at the Sala nearby the private residence of the US consul general, Eric Rubin. The Spizzwinks(?), America’s second oldest collegiate a cappella singing group from Yale University, was scheduled to perform as part of their 90 years anniversary world tour. Having enjoyed previous performances of the renowned Whiffenpoofs, the audience was looking forward to experience a more light-hearted, yet equally professional approach to classic, jazz, and contemporary musical pieces.

The Spizzwinks(?) in action at the US Consulate General sala.

After a short and bilingual address and introduction by Eric Rubin, the Spizzwinks(?) paraded into the sala, starting with the Yale traditional “Wake, Freshmen, Wake”, which from the beginning made it very clear that one was listening to a group of selected young men who without doubt knew what they were doing. The repertoire of the evening contained complex arrangements, such as songs by music legends George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, and Henry Mancini. Added to them, they mixed in arrangements of songs by Billy Joel, Jeff Buckley, Marvin Gaye, and Isaac Hayes. My personal two favorites that night were the almost classic song by Barry Manilow, “Copacabana”, underlining the tongue in cheek approach of the group, and the 1976 Queen number “Somebody To Love”, perfectly rendered and interpreted.

While the lead sings his heart out, the group pretended to be playing musical instruments, using their colleagues as such!

By that time, the light breeze had changed to a light storm, and it was not only the national flags that were almost blown away, but the microphones as well.

The thrilled audience found out that no Spizzwinks(?) performance would be complete without a generous dose of their unique brand of humor. For almost a century, the original and innovative skits have left listeners rolling with laughter. The Spizzwinks(?) have devised the recipe for a superlative performance: a perfect blend of humor, musicality, and showmanship. Summarizing the Chiang Mai night, the Spizzwinks(?) proved love of fine singing, fun, and fellowship, entertaining the audience with perfect harmony, infectious enthusiasm, and wit. Of course, two open questions remain - what is a “Spizzwink”, and why the question mark?

Nicole Rubin presented the Spizzwinks(?) with a bouquet of flowers after a very successful and entertaining performance.

The answer is simple - one night, late in 1913, four young men met at Mory’s Temple Bar, Yale’s historic tavern, to enjoy the spirits and pick a name for their new singing group. After thinking and drinking, one of them glimpsed the ghost of Frank Johnson - the postmaster of his small Iowa hometown who had attributed the Corn Blight of 1906 to a mythical insect called the Spizzwink. “That’s it!” he shouted. “We’ll call the group The Spizzwinks.” That year, the editor of the Yale Banner was unsure of the spelling of the fledgling group and added a question mark in brackets. The group liked the look of “The Spizzwinks(?)” and have kept question mark (in brackets) to this day. However, there is no question mark behind the group’s performance here in Chiang Mai, and we thank Eric Rubin and his tireless colleagues for his never ending efforts to bring American culture closer to Chiang Mai and its multi-cultural community.


Chamber Music Concert at the Four Seasons

Marion Vogt
Photos Michael Vogt

M.L. Usni Pramoj again agreed to enchant Chiang Mai with chamber music, this now being the fifth occasion. The interest and response this year was even larger than in the past and Chiang Mai showed up in full force.

(From left) Siripong Tiptan, the youngest member of the quartet, teaches at the MIFA International School of Music; Tasana Nagavajara, the leader who teaches at the Music Faculty of Silpakorn University is concertmaster of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra; Kittikhun Sodprasert, the cellist is a founding member of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra; M.L. Usni Pramoj, privy councilor and national artist.

This year the entrance ‘donation’ was set at a minimum of 500 baht and went directly to the Foundation to encourage the potential of disabled persons. Another difference to former years was the distribution of slippers before entering the beautiful flower decorated ‘Intanin’ Room where cocktails and sundowners were served before the one hour concert started.

General manager of the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, Patrick Ghielmetti talks with Bill Heineke.

General manager of the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, Patrick Ghielmetti, reminded the audience during his opening speech of the late Michael Kemp, the resort’s former general manager, who had been instrumental in arranging the previous concerts.

The sum of talent in that string quartet was quite extraordinary. Their most senior member is M.L. Usni Pramoj, a privy councilor, national artist, businessman, an experienced scuba diver, a family man with five children, who plays violin, viola and jazz trumpet, the latter with His Majesty the King. He even conducts and composes, and his young colleagues affectionately call him ‘Ajarn Mom’.

Socks and house shoes might ruin the look of an evening gown, but at least they save toes from getting blisters!

The quartet’s performance started with Mozart’s string quartet in C major, followed by Yuan Yah Leh, an old Thai Folk dance, arranged by M.L. Usni Pramoj. This simple melody reflected the gentle and fun loving nature of Thai people and was well received by the audience.

The program ended with Borodin’s string quartet, No. 2 in D major, which had the audience appealing for an encore. The evening ended with an exquisite buffet at the premises of the Four Seasons Cooking School and the promise from M.L. Usni Pramoj and his musicians to continue this tradition next year.