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Debussy’s piano music fills Gong Dee Gallery

Back to the land for an idyllic community life

Canadian gifts help mobilize the disabled

Debussy’s piano music fills Gong Dee Gallery

Gus Peterson
Photos by Michael Vogt

“To my dear Chouchou, with affectionate apologies from your Father, for what is to follow.” This dedication was written by Claude Debussy in 1908 above ‘Children’s Corner’, the musical gift to his three year old daughter. And to make the present even more personal, he printed his own drawing on the cover. During the second concert in the series A Debussy Festival on Friday September 9, Bennett Lerner choose these six masterpieces as entrée to yet another evening of mainly French music, this time only for piano. It was an impressive start to a interesting evening.

Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1” was played by Remi Namtep and Bennett Lerner.

Bennett’s Friends during this concert were three other well-known Chiangmai pianists: Remi Namtep, Bernard Sumner and David Wilson. Alone or in varying combinations, they brought us music from Satie, Ravel, Ives and Chopin. Going by the reaction from the audience, the program was highly appreciated. The long ovation that Remi Namtep received for her intense interpretation of Ravel’s “Une barque sur l’océan” was appropriate.

After the audience had taken part in a vocal presentation of the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, David Wilson brought us Charles Ives’ composition with the same title.

As was earlier announced, during the concerts of A Debussy Festival, Bennett Lerner will play all compositions that Debussy wrote for piano. This evening he added the “Pr้ludes”, Book 2, to the list.

One of Debussy’s best-known works is the “Pr้lude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune”. Originally written for symphonic orchestra, Ravel made a transcription for piano four hands. David Wilson and Bennett Lerner performed it this evening on one piano.

David Wilson and Bennett Lerner during their interpretation of the “Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune”.

As the organizers announced in their press release: “Many hands make light work”. That certainly applied to the final part of the program, in which three and a half of the four pianists together repeated their performance during the opening concert. Rachmaninov’s Romance and Waltz received again an impressive rendition.

But may be the ‘encore’ was the real spectacle of the evening. Bernard Sumner’s arrangement of Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” actually forced the Four Friends together behind one piano. With resounding success.

In 1912 the orchestral version of the “Prélude to The Afternoon of a Faun” was used by the famous dancer Vaslav Nijinski to create a ballet, called: “Apr่és-midi d’un faune”. During a presentation at Gong Dee Gallery, before the concert, this ballet was shown in a video-recording, made by the Paris Opera Ballet. This was followed by three more ballets, in which Nijinski has danced at about the same time. The music was from Rimski-Korsakov, von Webern and Borodin. Again, the combination of an event connected with and preceding the concert, was attractive.

The third concert in the series A Debussy Festival will bring us chamber music from Debussy and others for flute, clarinet, harp and piano.

Bennett Lerner played Debussy’s “Préludes, Livre 2”.

The variety in music was nicely matched by a variety in clothing. From left: David Wilson, Remi Namtep and Bennett Lerner.


Back to the land for an idyllic community life

Kamin Lertchaiprasert, Sasiwimon Wongjarin and staff reporters

An experiment in natural living, in which the inner self is explored against a background of small-scale farming and meditation, is available at the Land Foundation in a small and idealistic community run by artists.

Foundation work on the house. Artists from different countries work hand in hand.

A committee led by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kamin Lertchaiprasert and Uthit Atimana established the Land Foundation early last year, the objective being to support and promote artistic activities and natural farming, along with encouraging self-knowledge through Vipassana meditation techniques.

The ridge beam party

These are all regarded as interlocking. Natural farming revives a natural way of living and teaches self-sufficiency, while Vipassana enables participants to understand their inner values and consequently to have respect for the values and opinions of others. Art and culture are regarded as communication tools, pushing social knowledge further and making it possible for society to develop into the future.

The Land Foundation provides a venue for organizations, artists and people who are interested in using its space for activities such as seminars, art exhibitions and “artists in residence”, all free of charge. Thai and international artists alike are welcomed.

There are two operational bases, one located at Umong Silppadhamma which has a working space, an exhibition area and a meditation hall, the other a farm site at Tambon Num Bo Luang, in Amphur Sanpatong, which is shortly to open.

Painting the community house. Everybody present helps to get the project going.

A one-year project is currently underway in which an experimental community has been established. The participants live as a community for a period of one year, and are learning how to depend upon the natural environment. Twelve people, Thais and foreigners, are taking part in this project.

Their activities include paddy farming in a two-crop annual cycle with jasmine rice being planted in the usual rice-planting season from August to November, and outside of the usual rice-planting season, in January to April, sticky rice will be planted. Besides paddy farming the participants tend fruit plants and trees, and grow herbs and vegetables. The energy used for cooking is obtained from a biogas system that runs on buffalo dung. Leftovers are used as manure.

Architect Francois Roche and artist Philippe Parreno designed “the Battery House”, a central meeting space that also acts as an electricity generating resource. Animal muscle is converted to electrical energy through the use of buffaloes who pull a metal plate up and let the weight fall naturally, generating electricity which is stored in a battery.

All the projects and houses are financed by donations from artists and by funds raised by the artists themselves.

The Land Foundation is open every day. Those interested can visit the project or apply for activities without any charge. An exhibition entitled “One Month in Norway: S๘rfinnset Skole/ the Nordland” will open on Saturday October 1, at 6 p.m. in the Land Foundation office. Contact email theland @thelandfoundation.org or tel 053 81 1555. The exhibition runs until November 30.


Canadian gifts help mobilize the disabled

Bernie McKenzie-Brown

For most of us, it is a simple matter to get out of bed and get ready to take on the day. Spare a thought, though, for those who can’t get out of bed because they are quadriplegic. Spare another for those who can’t get out because they need help dressing and getting into their wheelchairs. Then there are the men and women who need colostomy bags changed or urinary catheters replaced before their days can begin. This is reality for many disabled adults. For a fortunate few, life has begun to improve.

 

 

 

 

 

Last week physically handicapped patients and staff at McKean Hospital couldn’t hide their excitement and pure joy as medical equipment and other items started to arrive. The day’s delivery included two modified beds – one for a quadriplegic and one for a paraplegic – as well as a dozen new wheelchairs and 15 gel cushions.

Sabaay dii! Crippled when she fell from a building 15 years ago, Ratchapon Deesala receives a gel cushion and a much-needed replacement wheelchair. Ratchapon lives with family in the community.

This Canadian-funded initiative is helping transform life for young and severely disabled adults who live at Chiang Mai’s McKean Rehabilitation Centre. The 720,000 baht project has begun to provide help for 13 extended-stay rehabilitation patients and for outpatients who live in their community. Their ages range from about 16 to 42. Some have suffered since birth; others are often victims of motorcycle and industrial accidents.

Those who live at McKean share accommodation in tiny one-bedroom bungalows. All suffer from debilitating handicaps. They desperately need equipment and such aids for daily living as wheelchairs, braces, and prosthetics to make their lives more comfortable. Unfortunately, this equipment is too expensive for their families to afford. The hospital delivers good care in a caring environment, but it, too, is constrained by budgets.

An initiative of the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West, the McKean Disabled Project’s main aim is to make it easier for the disabled to move about. In addition to purchasing high-quality wheelchairs, the Canadian project has provided funds for the purchase of motorcycles, which will be modified for use by wheelchair-bound patients. The project has also modified regular bicycles into hand propelled tricycles.

We’ve got mobility! McKean’s residents show off new equipment and supplies, from hand-driven bicycles to gel cushions.

The project has other aims, one of which is to help patients deal with painful bed sores. This terrible condition develops in those confined to beds or even wheelchairs. To manage this condition, the project has funded the purchase of gel cushions. Funding began with a grant from the Rotary Club of Calgary Centennial. Several Canadians also made personal cash gifts. These sums were then matched by The Wild Rose Foundation, a funding agency sponsored by the government of Alberta (a Canadian province). This agency, which promotes charitable, philanthropic, humanitarian, and public spirited acts, thus provided the single largest contribution to the project. These sums were topped up by The Rotary Foundation, taking total contributions to the budgeted amount of 720,000 baht. The involvement of several branches of the global Rotary organization is tribute to the far-reaching philanthropy of the world’s largest service organization.

McKean Hospital has been serving the people of Northern Thailand for a century. It was established by a humanitarian missionary surgeon, James McKean, in response to the plight of those with leprosy in Chiang Mai. Still the centre for leprosy treatment in northern Thailand, today McKean also operates a program of extended general rehabilitation programs to treat the disabled.

For some people, the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning is no simple matter. For some who live this simple truth, simple generosity is bringing hope and the gift of greater mobility.