HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Unforgettable afternoon of unforgettable jazz wows Chiang Mai

Bellatrix at Pang Suan Kaew Hotel

Black Day ends up with a good day


Animal Health government workers receive bird flu information

Expanding spa business spurs demand for sesame

Unforgettable afternoon of unforgettable jazz wows Chiang Mai

“We want more!”

Phitsanu Thepthong

The awaiting audience of jazz enthusiasts was greeted in northern Thai kammuang dialect with “Sawasdee krap, sabaai dee kor krap?” when the Chicago Jazz Quartet introduced themselves to the audience of over 200 in the Channel 11 TV studio, and to viewers watching the live broadcast on Saturday afternoon, August 21.

Jazz Ambassadors 2004 (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

The jazz ambassadors consisted of Chicago residents, vocalist and trumpeter Matt Lewis, pianist Benjamin Lewis, bassist Lorin Cohen, and drummer Michael Raynor. The US Embassy organized the gig, since each year the US Department of State and the John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts collaborate to select musicians from across the US to represent America abroad as their jazz ambassadors.

Henry Jardine (3rd right), Administrative Officer of the US consulate and Kanitha Srirat (2nd right), the director of TV Channel 11 among the audience. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Kanitha Srirat, the director of TV Channel 11 Chiang Mai, gave an opening address, followed by a welcome from the American consul in Chiang Mai, Henry Jardine.

The Chicago Jazz Quartet performs across the globe and highlights the indigenous American art form of vocal jazz. During their short speeches between songs, they wished long life to Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand on the occasion of her 6th cycle and birthday celebration on August 12.

The quartet has performed with major artists, including Bob Mintzer, Vinnie Calieuta, Byron Stripling, Marlena Shaw and Nancy Wilson, and began this concert with the famous Stevie Wonder song, ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’, followed by a selection including ‘Autumn Leaves’ (J. Kosma/J. Mercer), ‘Cloudburst’ (Jimi Hendrix), and ‘I Didn’t Know What Time it Was’ by Rodgers and Hart.

The show went on with each of the jazz ambassadors giving their best, acting, playing, singing and including the audience in their show with renditions of numbers from the greats such as Ray Charles, Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein. Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’ made the audience go wild, they wanted more and they were insistent!

The second set carried on the mood and the music, and for the audience, it was an unforgettable afternoon with unforgettable songs, and at the end, it was a reason to hope that the American Embassy in Bangkok, together with the Consulate in Chiang Mai, will do their utmost to make sure the Jazz Ambassadors 2005 will have a chance to perform for us in Chiang Mai.

Bellatrix at Pang Suan Kaew Hotel

Dr. Rebecca Lomax

What can you say about three nineteen-year-old musically gifted people who left their audience exhilarated but without words to describe Sunday evening’s musical experience? Bellatrix is composed of pianist Prach Boondiskulchok from Bangkok, cellist Mary Elliott from Wales and violinist Joshua Burke from Ireland, all senior students of the Yehudi Menuhin School in the United Kingdom.

Three outstanding musicians calling themselves Bellatrix: (from left) cellist Mary Elliott from Wales, pianist Prach Boondiskulchok from Bangkok and cellist and violinist Joshua Burke from Ireland.

The school was founded in 1963 to provide ideal conditions under which musically gifted children could study and develop their talents. Bellatrix performed in Bangkok and Chiang Mai to benefit the Fund for Classical Music Promotion under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.

The concert opened with Franz Josef Haydn’s Piano Trio HXV 25, one of the greatest of classical trios. The music of the Adagio can only be described as so sweet that many in the audience could be seen with their eyes closed and smiles on their faces, but the Rondo echoed the gypsy music that was an integral part of Haydn’s life in Hungary. The trio was followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata op 53, written when Beethoven realized that he was becoming deaf. In a performance that foreshadows coming musical greatness, Prach played with both technical precision and heart. The audience took obvious pride in this son of Thailand who has studied piano since the age of six, and studied abroad since the age of 12.

Mary Elliott

There was no urging the audience to return after the brief intermission. All were more than eager to take their seats again for more music.

A piano and cello duet, the Adagio and Allegro opus 70 by Robert Schumann, followed intermission. Originally written for horn and piano, this piece was later transcribed for cello and piano. The last piece, Trio by Maurice Ravel, evoked the spirit of his Basque heritage with many dance rhythms and unfailing energy. Murmurs of “Bravo!” could be heard throughout the piece, and were heard aloud as it ended.

The musicians of Bellatrix are as impressive as young people, as they are as musicians. Each has a history of fund-raising and other activities for less advantaged people. Prach is outstanding in this area. In 2001, he taught music to youngsters who attended the Family Summer Camp. In 2002, he played a duo with cellist Kerstin Mayer to raise funds for Satit Chula School. In 2003, he and friends in the Menuhin Quintet played three concerts in Chiang Mai and Bangkok to raise funds for the Thai Red Cross. Also in 2003, he again played in a concert to raise money for the Family Network Foundation in Bangkok.

All three left Sunday night’s concert, their work finished, to enjoy music in Pai and a vacation in Koh Chang. What a delight to hear their concert and talk to them about their life plans.

Black Day ends up with a good day

Staff reporters

The top band, Black Day

The five member Black Day band from Uttradit province trounced seven other bands to win the Mattayom category in the Panasonic Star Challenge held at Central Airport Plaza, Chiang Mai on August 21. The winners in the singing contest were Anat Saithawee and Thammanoon Boonyaphan, also from Uttradit. They were selected as the representatives from the north to take part in the Bangkok contest.

Obituary: Bradford Harper, 54

Bradford Harper, founder of the Bombay Company and Burmese Army Trekking sticks, died in Chiang Mai, Thailand on August 2.

He was the beloved son of Bernadine M. Harper and the late George W. Harper.

He leaves behind wife Cindy and son Peter. He was the brother of Arnold “Chip,” Patrick, Mary, and the late Kevin Harper.

Bradford lived not only 17 years in Chiang Mai but in a great many places and touched many lives. Among his most recent endeavors included the invention and the ongoing stories of Sir. Hillpig-Smyth and his trusty Burmese Army Trekking stick. He received many honors and accolades for his creative work in the field of marketing.

Bradford was a graduate of Duxbury High School and Louisiana State University where he was president of the Lambda Chi Fraternity.

In addition to his life in Chiang Mai, Brad lived in Bermuda, Toronto, Duxbury, Mass, and New Orleans, L.A.

He will be missed dearly by his family and friends including Kevin Harper of Bermuda, Gary Brown of Vancouver, Judi Sempson of Colorado, and Jerry Read of New Orleans.

A memorial service was said at St. Thomas’s chapel in Falmouth, MA on August 9. He was buried in Chiang Mai at the Foreigners’ Cemetery on August 26, 2004.

May his soul rest in peace!

Animal Health government workers receive bird flu information

Saksit Meesubkwang

A training course on the prevention and control of bird flu was organized to prepare government personnel for the next outbr eak.

The Division of Livestock Development held the training session for personnel from the Regional Bureau of Animal Health and Hygiene (from 17 provinces of the North) on August 18 at Duangtawan Hotel in Chiang Mai.

Wisit Rueksa-nga, director of the Regional Bureau of Animal Health and Hygiene during the training session.

Regional bureau director Wisit Rueksa-nga said the bird flu (avian influenza) epidemic in Asia, including several areas of Thailand since the beginning of 2004, had been a major public health concern.

Several people became seriously ill or had died. The situation had a negative impact on the national economy, including poultry husbandry, export and tourism industries.

Thailand had lost a huge amount of its potential income because of the epidemic. However, during the outbreak, the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), having direct responsibility, claims it had done its best to control the disease and bring the situation back to normal as quickly as possible.

To date, no new outbreaks were reported, but there could be another outbreak, causing as much damage as in the past. The fact that bird flu is still being reported in Thailand shows that this is a real threat.

Participants at the seminar would gain a better understanding of avian influenza and be able to take immediate action to control the disease and prevent it spreading. They would also be better equipped with better public relations abilities to advise farmers who raise poultry.

Expanding spa business spurs demand for sesame

Local farmers are being urged to grow more sesame to meet the expected increase in demand that is likely to result from the growth in the country’s spa business. Sesame seeds and oil are both in demand. Sesame oil is used in oriental cooking, and is an important ingredient in many skin and health-care products.

The Department of Agriculture believes demand for sesame is likely to increase significantly in the near future. The government plans to develop the local spa and health-care business, and wants Thailand to become a regional hub.

The government wants to see farmers grow high yield sesame seeds with a high nutrition value, Chalermpol Rungreung, chief of the government’s agricultural research institute stated. A new type of sesame seed will soon be distributed to farmers, as well as the technology needed to grow it.

Thailand only produces 40,000 tons of sesame seeds every year, and nearly two-thirds of this is exported. International demand for sesame products is high. Japan’s demand for imported sesame seeds alone is as high as 100,000 tons a year. (TNA)