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Dine and Dance under the stars!

Vocal music at fourth Debussy concert

Valentine’s Concert at Thapae Gate

Dine and Dance under the stars!

FERC Gala a huge success with over 710,000 baht collected for children

Michael Vogt
Photos: Marion Vogt

As 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.

The 7th 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.

The 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.

The 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 Chicks’.

A 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.

A 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 donations.

The 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 Mike’s Hamburgers.

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 Thailand.

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.

Silent 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.

The 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.

(From left) Meow and Patrick Roberts, Ian Bushell and Panida Inthasan, plus FERC board member Marc Dumur.

The Silent Auction tables were a center of attention during the evening and many were seen ‘guarding’ their auction papers hoping theirs would be the highest bid.

CG of 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.


Vocal music at fourth Debussy concert

Gus Peterson

Jan-Ate 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 the piano.

Soprano 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 geksst”, (I have always loved to kiss the girls). Renard B. Wintner proved to be an admirable accompanist, also in this type of music.

Three 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 recital.

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.


Valentine’s Concert at Thapae Gate

Hannah Dela Santos

Karen and Debbie Klon-gtruadroke having fun singing for the large audience.

More than one thousand people got a taste of love at the “Think About This
Love Concert” on Sunday evening, February 12, 2006 at Thapae Gate in downtown Chiangmai. “GSUS 7,” a Christian record label, in partnership with Chiangmai Hope Church, and sponsors, Kingdom Books and CBN Siam, celebrated Valentine’s Day by arranging this concert as a gift for the people of Chiangmai.

CBN Siam’s Kid’s Only hosts, Zara and Turbo, emceed the five hour show, while performers from “GSUS 7” entertained the crowd with various styles of music.

From Heart To Heart hosts, Dr. Niran Patranukul and Sucheewa Insuwan also made a live appearance. Life and color were added to the show when sisters Debbie and Karen Klongtruadroke, hosts of CBN Siam’s From Heart To Heart and One Cubed programs, took the stage and wowed the audience with their beau-tiful voices. In addition, Bangkok’s Hope Church band, “Hymns”, and the Christian Outreach Center band invited the audience to get on their feet and dance.

“We want to express the meaning of God’s love through music because it’s the best medium in reaching out to all kinds of people,” said Rev. Sawat Panchana, pastor of Chiangmai’s Hope Church. “Loads of love were shared at this Valentine’s celebration through the talent of gifted artists and we sent the audience home with an invitation to think about this love.”

Think about Love - concert stage and audience.