Kitavadhana stepped forward on the stage of the beautiful Kad
Theater and began to sing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of
the Opera, accompanied by the Northern Symphony Orchestra.
Daisy Vogt’s review of the musical performance in the August
19 edition of Chiangmai Mail says that his beautiful
baritone voice “left the crowd thunderstruck”. I was in that
crowd, and that certainly describes my reaction. His voice is
filled with strength, and it resonated throughout the theater.
The audience was intensely, appreciatively quiet.
Brook was born in Lampang only 29 years ago,
and has packed a lot of music into such a young life. He father
is a teacher, and his mother worked as a public relations expert
for the government. They saw to it that he began to study music
early, and he played the organ from the age of 12. He came to
Chiang Mai after elementary school to attend Prince Royals
College, and had a defining experience there at age 16. Joan
Eubank, the Grande dame of local theater and a veteran of
Broadway, performed for the students. Brook was amazed by both
her voice and stage presence. He knew he wanted to learn both.
He asked her to teach him, but Joan was too busy working on
other projects to take on an unknown 16 year old student. Brook
set about convincing her that he was serious and would work
hard. Eventually, to his great joy and relief, she agreed. He
still speaks of her as “my teacher”, although he has had
After graduation, Brook attended Chiang Mai
University and majored in English. He won a singing contest his
first year, but kept his love of music in the background while
he studied English. His English is excellent, but by his third
year of study he was bored with the subject. He says that he is
not the kind of person to work hard on something he doesn’t
enjoy, but works very hard on things that are important to him.
So he decided to transfer as many credits as possible to the
Music Department and start over as music major. But voice was
not a popular major at that time at the university. Brook looked
around and realized that the music department at Payap
emphasized it, so he transferred to Payap. He was delighted to
study with the Payap professors whose music we all admire –
Bernard Sumner and Bennett Lerner – but says that he had many
excellent music teachers and experiences along the way. He also
studied with Tianchai Sooktiang, owner of the Voice Studio.
He graduated from Payap and began his local
career in music, teaching, and performing. He began to take
private voice students before he graduated, and has had over 100
students since he first began teaching. He limits the number of
students at his Vocal Fitness Studio, and concentrates on his
own musical development when he isn’t teaching. He says that
most students like pop music and sing just for fun. Very few are
serious. But he also says that some work very hard.
He has performed in several recitals locally,
as well as other musical productions. He plans another concert
in the fall with an emphasis on classical music. He frequently
sings in Bangkok, and has performed in Rangoon and Mandalay. On
weekends you are likely to find him singing for an appreciative
audience in any number of local venues. He has an excellent
accompanist who works with him in the restaurants and at private
parties. She plays popular Thai as well as western music. Since
many people make many requests, she has to be prepared for
almost any type of music. But for concerts, Brook enjoys working
with classical performers Bennett Lerner, Bernard Sumner, or
I commented on Brook’s fluency in English
and his use of expressions that I associate with American
English. Brook referred me back to those people who have been so
influential in his life, and with whom he still works. Although
they have been in Thailand for a long time, Joan Eubank, Bennett
Lerner and David Wilson are all Americans. Then we talked about
the Thai influences in his life. Tianchai was certainly one of
those, as were many teachers at both Chiang Mai and Payap
Universities. He has been blessed by an international education
while never leaving Thailand.
He recently had the opportunity of a
lifetime, and was invited to perform for a member of the Royal
Family. He simply beams as he describes the experience. He was
honored and nervous and thrilled and nervous. I’ve no doubt
that the performance was excellent.
He just received a scholarship for private
study abroad, and is considering his options. He discussed going
the United States or England. English-speaking countries would
be so easy with his language skills. But he will probably go to
Italy. His generous benefactor has offered to pay all expenses,
and he is eager to go to “the root of bel canto singing”.
Bel canto means, literally, beautiful singing and describes in
particular the lyrical quality that Italian opera singers use.
The style appears to be dependent on the Italian language for
its fluidity, so Brook will have to study Italian as well as bel
canto. He has already demonstrated a flair for languages,
however. He loves opera and is willing to work hard. He wonders,
though, if an Asian could succeed in that art form.
Brook believes that he will eventually have
to leave Chiang Mai to further develop his career, and he
expresses mixed feelings about making such a move. He says that
he loves living in Chiang Mai. It’s an “easy-going city”,
unlike Bangkok. It has a relatively low cost of living, the
people are friendly, and the weather is good. We agree that the
recent weather and floods are exceptions.
Brook is totally focused on his music, and I’ve no doubt
that he will succeed in whatever he chooses to do in life.