FERC Gala a huge success with over 710,000 baht collected for children
Photos: Marion Vogt
it was a charity gala for the education of hill tribe children, the guests
were entertained by the Karen Choir ‘Moosay-khu’, the ‘Betagen’ Pop
Band from the School of the Blind, the Muang Keud Hill tribe dancers and
‘Chi Suwichan’ with original Karen music.
Annual FERC benefit Gala took place last weekend at Baan Wongmalee, a
private area just outside of town which seems to be becoming more and more
popular for all sorts of charity functions and social events. Over 200
generous-minded people attended the “Dine and Dance under the Stars”,
and were treated to an array of entertainment, activities and firework
displays, as well as numerous opportunities to financially support FERC’s
motto to “help us to help the children”.
During the cocktails and conversation sessions, one could
enjoy a foot massage, provided by the Chiang Mai School of the Blind, and
admire and bid for a great number of items at the Silent Auction. These
ranged from hotel accommodations to exquisite luncheons and dinners, from
spa treatments to furniture or jewelry, something for everybody was on
offer, and eventually the silent auction added over 170,000 baht to the end
result of the evening.
The show program opened with a bang and FERC Director
Scott Jones’ “Ba-Ba Blues”, a song about living in Thailand where you
can drive anywhere, sleep anytime and eat anything. Shortly after, the first
door prize was drawn, and a beautiful carved Jade necklace, generously
donated by the Orchid Jade Factory, was presented to a new owner.
FERC Gala 2006 totalizer climbed from zero up to a number which exceeded the
highest hopes of the FERC board of directors.
A succulent dinner with Western and Thai food was laid
out by the Amari Rincome Hotel, accompanied by more raffle drawings and
musical entertainment by the Karen Choir “Moosaykhu”. After that, the
three EmCees, Game (Thai), Keiko (Japanese), and Michael (English) had their
hands full keeping the audience informed of raffle items which were won,
door prizes which were drawn, cars which were blocking others, and
microphones with minds and off switches of their own. Fortunately, the
microphone worked when one of the FERC founders Dr. Rebecca Lomax took on
the stage to inform the audience, in a speech from the heart, that the
Foundation has been established in the year 2000 by a group of eight , among
them the late Gary Dilley, a retired banker, who was a polio survivor and
especially sensitive to the needs of disabled people. Gary led the
foundation through its formative stages and was instrumental in two of their
building projects. This 7th
event looked to become the most successful ever, and FERC, a registered
nonprofit organization in the United States and Thailand, partners with the
Dutch nonprofit Samsara Foundation, and with Give and Live, a registered
nonprofit corporation in the USA, to raise funds, present events, build
schools and dormitories, and provide learning materials, scholarships and
necessary living expenses for needy children in Thailand.
main door prize was drawn by VIP guest CG of Japan Katsuhiro Shinohara with
the help of Lesley Hudson. The four days, three nights cruise on the River
Kwai went to K. Areerat Vinson from Chiang Mai.
Next was a performance by the Karen choir “Moo Say
Khu”, comprised of members of the Karen Hostel Children who stay ay the
Hill Tribes Resources and Development Center near Wat Chan, so that they can
attend school in nearby villages. The audience was very appreciative that
the children had come 150 kilometers to sing for them!
Next was a rather off-beat mini show by David Hardcastle,
his wife Noi, and Becky, all having somehow been convinced to wear chicken
costumes in public and to perform as ‘The Foul Rooster and the Sexy
foul rooster and the sexy chicks had David Hardcastle, his wife Noi and Dr.
Becky Lomax wearing chicken costumes in public. The public loved them!
Students from the Muang Keud School, located in the hills
near Mae Taeng, then performed two traditional Hmong and Karen hill tribe
dances, much to everybody’s enjoyment, just like the performance of Chi Su
Weechan and his wife Khu Wah
who sang original music accompanied by a traditional Karen instrument called
the “teepaynah”. Mark Walder and John Smith, also known as “Tangerine
Blue”, added a touch of foreign music to the show part, by jazzing the
crowd up with renditions from Porter, Gershwin and Berlin.
pair of matching teak tables from CDC Design was the last live auction item
and was humorously auctioned off by MCs Game and Michael Vogt.
More door prizes were drawn and given away, and more
sponsors, donors and visible and invisible helping hands in front and behind
the stage were recognized for making this Gala the most successful ever.
Fortunately, the program had to be interrupted a few times, as more
unexpected aid came in, such as the donation of 100,000 baht from a person
who wishes to remain anonymous and unnamed, as well as for the announcement
of an email from the US, praising the effort and pledging another 40,000
baht towards the worthy causes. By the time the Music Man band took the
stage and brought everybody to his and her dancing feet, the tally stood at
710,000 baht, but the cashier was still busy collecting more and more
first live auction item was a beautiful bamboo basket with orchids and was
successfully bought in the auction by Brian Pern, the Managing Director of
With the grand total from that night exceeding all expectations, the FERC
board, and the many helpers and contributors with ‘overflowing hearts’
are now even more assured that with this caring Chiang Mai community, they
are able to make the present and the future brighter for needy children in
Everybody came to wine and
dine while helping the good cause once again and it showed in the mood of
the guests. Here from left to right Khun Wan,
John Cooley, Milt Owens, Lawrence Goldberg and Peter Row.
Auction items included decorative items for homes or office, cruises, fine
dining vouchers, spa treatments and hotel stays from all over Thailand, even
jewelry and antique bric-a-brac.
night ended with dancing to the sounds of Music Man and Pongtada who
entertained with easy listening hits and rock from the 60s to the 90s.
left) Meow and Patrick Roberts, Ian Bushell and Panida Inthasan, plus FERC
board member Marc Dumur.
Silent Auction tables were a center of attention during the evening and many
were seen ‘guarding’ their auction papers hoping theirs would be the
Japan Katsuhiro Shinohara joined the FERC Gala, as well as over 40 Japanese
couples from the Chiang Mai community. (From right) Tamiko and CG Katsuhiro
Shinohara, host of the evening Weerasak Wongmalee, Lance Lewis, ‘Hair
Pro’ stylists Koovit Boonma and Noom.
Stobbe came from Bangkok to let us enjoy his beautiful tenor.
The fourth concert in the Debussy series was in many
respects an international affair. Song texts were written in four different
languages: French, Italian, German and Thai, and the performers represented
three different countries - Holland, England and the USA.
From this latter country came Deborah Childs, the lyric
soprano, who has lived for over ten year in Chiangmai already. Her
contributions to this concert were very varied. First there were 3 beautiful
Debussy songs. The music to the French lyrics, handed out to the audience in
both the original version and in English translation, proved why Debussy has
been described as ‘A Painter in Music’. Deborah sang “Nuit d’้toile”
(Night of Stars), composed by Debussy when he was only14, “La sereine m้lancolie”
and especially “Mandoline” with that charming thin and transparent color
that is so typical for these songs.
Next Deborah sang the dramatic aria “Dondo lieta
usci” from the opera La Boh่me, written by Giacomo Puccini, a
contemporary of Debussy. Finally she added a Thai song to her program.
Puangroi Snitvong (1914-2000) composed the dreamy song “Bua Khao” (White
Lotus), that was arranged by Renard B. Wintner, who also accompanied her on
Deborah Childs sings Debussy’s songs.
Jan-Ate Stobbe was born in the often grey and windy North
of Holland, and that
climate probably caused a warmth to develop inside him, that nowadays is
clearly audible in his voice. Jan-Ate is what is called a Heldentenor
or heroic tenor. It was nice to hear him in quite different types of music.
There were three of the tragic songs, composed by French composer Henri
Duparc (1848-1933). “Lamento”, “Extase” and “ษl้gie”
have hauntingly beautiful music made to support texts, full of tears and
death. Jan-Ate gave these songs an excellent restrained interpretation.
From Duparc it was quite a change to Franz Lehar
(1870-1948), the Austrian composer so famous for his operettas. The
well-known song “Wolgalied”, from the operetta Der Zarewitsch, about the
lonely soldier on the river Wolga, wondering whether God has forgotten him,
seemed to be written especially for Jan-Ate. Next came “Immer nur lไcheln”,
always just smiling, that is what the Chinese lover is doing, when meeting
the lady he adores, even though he is sure that for her he is ‘just a
plaything, a stranger’. Jan-Ate’s encore was another famous song from
Lehar: “Gern habe ich die Frauen geksst”, (I have always loved
to kiss the girls). Renard B. Wintner proved to be an admirable accompanist,
also in this type of music.
artists in concert: Deborah Childs, Jan-Ate Stobbe and Bennett Lerner.
A Debussy Festival is of course dedicated to the music of
Debussy, and especially to his compositions for piano. Bennett Lerner
continued with his travels though this part of the famous Frenchman’s
legacy. The “ษtude retrouv้e” (Rediscovered Etude), written
in 1915, was ‘lost’ and in 1977 rediscovered. It turned out that Debussy
had not completely finished it, and it needed some additions to be
performable. This evening Dr. Lerner gave us his own version.
Then followed the second book with “ษtudes”,
all six composition of a very high level of difficulty. Thanks to
Bennett’s technical capabilities, they kept their beauty in this
interpretation. With the “Suite bergamasque No.2”, Bennet brought this
concert to an impressive finish.
The audience was clearly appreciating the explanations
given both in the program notes as well as in spoken word during the
At the end of the concert, Dr.Lerner informed us that “A Debussy
Festival” will have a second part in the next season with five more
concerts to come. The first one will be in June 2006.