Charity concert with
Crystal Singing Bowls
A novel charity concert is being held at Payap University
with the performing artist being Katharina Bless. The concert is in favor of
the Cancer Foundation which provides accommodation for cancer patients who
cannot afford to stay in town for daily treatment, and the New Life
Foundation, (under the Patronage of HRH The Princess Mother), which looks
after over 1400 Thais with a physical or mental handicaps.
The venue is the Chapel at the Payap University, Thursday, May 10th 2006,
from 7.30 – 9.30 p.m.
Songkran 2006 in Chiang Mai
By Lynn H. Safford, New Hampshire, USA
His hair was black, his skin a light chocolate brown. The grin on
his face revealed bright white teeth. He aimed the gun at her. It seemed
as long as he was tall. She was a defenseless tourist. She could do
nothing but raise her hands in surrender. “Avoid it like the plague,”
the travel guide said of the Songkran Festival in Thailand, but she read
about it after all the arrangements had been made and all the tickets
had been issued. The Songkran Festival was the Thai New Year. It was
celebrated in the middle of April. At the heart of it was water, a lot
of it, because Thais believed that water washed away bad luck from the
old year and brought good luck and prosperity into the new. The festival
was also a period for children to show respect to their elders, for
families to clean their houses and for the faithful to wash the
thousands of Buddha images in the temples throughout Thailand. With so
pure a premise, how bad could it be?
This was her first trip to Asia. It had been a long haul, almost
twenty-four hours to Thailand, but she would have done it again in a
heartbeat. In Bangkok she had grown to love the ever gracious, ever
smiling Thai people. “Sawatdi kha,” they greeted her at every turn,
drawing out the last syllable kaaaaah and bowing respectfully with their
palms pressed into a wai.
On a day trip to Ayuthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital city north of
Bangkok, she had glimpsed the beginnings of the festival. Perched on the
back of an elephant that pitched and swayed with every giant step, she
watched an open truck filled with children approach a line of elephants
by the side of the road. The children aimed hoses and threw pails of
water on the giant pachyderms. In return, the animals dunked their
trunks into deep buckets, raised their heads high and sprayed back. The
children laughed gleefully under the elephantine shower.
Now she had arrived in Chiang Mai. The plane had been full and the
Bangkok Post‘s prediction of record crowds had proven to be true. The
airport was bedlam. There were no taxis at the taxi stand, and a long
line of travelers waited ahead of her under the hot April sun. She
headed back into the terminal to make alternate arrangements to
transport to her hotel.
At the door a man approached her. “Taxi?” He pointed to a small beat-up
Toyota parked by the curb to her right. “How many bags?”
“Two,” she pointed to her luggage. “To D2 Hotel?” A taxi should cost no
more than 100 baht from the airport to the city. Be sure to negotiate
the fare before getting into the cab. “How many Baht?” she asked.
“One hundred and fifty. Festival today. I take you around busy streets.”
She did the math. Under $4 US. This wasn’t the time to quibble over a
She ventured from the hotel with her map and headed towards the moat
that surrounded the old city. All along route the sidewalks were
congested with people. The roads were clogged with traffic. Water
spurted and spouted back and forth between passengers in open trucks and
motorbikes and water-wielding pedestrians.
Splat, the first shot of water hit her. It felt good in the heat. She
smiled at the perpetrator, as another celebrant poured a cup of icy
water down her back. She gasped at the coldness, but before she could
catch her breath, a passing truck hit its target head on and a cascade
of water soaked her to the skin. The water dribbled down her legs into
her new leather sandals. What had she been thinking wearing them today
of all days?
As a fire hydrant spewing a geyser, the spigot on Songkran was turned
wide open. Water was gushing everywhere. She was a foreigner, a farang,
caught in the middle of the unabashed dousing and merrymaking. She
hadn’t dressed for such a drenching, so she decided to return to the
peace and calm of the dry hotel. But it wasn’t so easy. She had been
swept up into the multitude, and there wasn’t room to maneuver to turn
around. She was squeezed between the crowd on the sidewalk and a deep,
dirty puddle in the street. Who knew where the water had been? She
teetered on the curb fighting to keep her balance…to save her shoes and
keep her feet clean.
That’s when she saw the gun and the grin. It was the longest, most
colorful squirt gun, and behind it was the widest, most mischievous grin
she had ever seen. The boy pulled the trigger and the steady stream of
water sent her into the puddle, new shoes and all. In the spirit of
Songkran, she slogged through the muddy water and allowed it to wash
over her feet. “Good luck,” she wished herself. To the smiling boy, she
said, “Happy New Year” and continued her wet, wild walk towards the
An exceptional violin recital in Chiangmai
By Jan Verwers
This was in many ways an exceptional evening. First there was the
performer, violinist Vadim Tchijik. Born in Moscow in 1975, presently at
the age of 31, he is already a celebrity, who performed with many of the
great orchestras in the world, won prestigious prizes in Moscow, Genoa,
Paris and Hamburg, has several CD-recordings to his name, and is a
Professor of Violin at two state conservatories in Paris, who in
addition to teaching in the French capital, tours through Europe and
Asia, while giving master-classes to violin students.
Second there was the venue for this concert, the small audience hall at
the “Alliance Française”. True, it was small, the acoustics were far
from ideal, the air-con was too loud, and after it was switched off, the
room had some characteristics of a sauna. But where else in the world is
it possible to be so close to a famous violinist, who is playing his
wonderful instrument like he was in your own living room. A unique
And then there was the program, entitled “Le Violon Virtuose”. Three of
the compositions were written by musicians that were themselves violin
virtuosos. The Austrian Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) was the leading
violin virtuoso of his day. Kreisler was much admired for his effortless
performance as well as for his vibrato technique. His popularity was
reinforced by his own numerous short tuneful compositions for the
instrument of which he was such a master. That night we heard his
‘Recitativo et Scherzo, Op.6".
Next came the “Sonata No.3 Ballade”, written by the Belgian musician
Eugène Ysaye (1858-1931). Ysaye was a student of Wieniawksi and
Vieuxtemps, and it is written that he had one of the most powerful
violin sounds ever known and was regarded as one of the greatest
violinists in his day. He gave the much discussed premiere of Debussy’s
“String Quartet” in Paris in 1893.
Nicolo Paganini (Italy, 1782-1840) was both a famous violinist as well
as a composer. His playing of tender passages was so beautiful that his
audiences often burst into tears, and yet, he could perform with such
force and velocity that at Vienna one listener became half crazed and
declared that for some days he had seen the Devil helping the violinist.
That evening Tchijik played Paganini’s “Caprices No. 9 and 17”.
The program started with the “Adagio et Fugue de la sonate No.1 en sol
mineur” from Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). And a composition from
Bach also closed this recital. Tchijik did not choose for an easy final,
when he decided to play the famous “Chaconne” from “Bach’s Partita in D
minor”. This piece, somewhere described as ‘fiendishly difficult’,
brought the best out of the performer, who seemed to be deeply entranced
during this unforgettable rendition.
We want to thank the “Alliance française” and its co-sponsor “Rimping
Supermarket” for the occasion to listen to Vadim Tchijik, and from the
Maestro himself we humbly ask: Please, come back next year.
Park Founder receives
honorary PhD from Crown Prince
On 05 April 2006 Lek (as she
likes to be known) received an honorary PhD (Veterinarian Science) from
the Crown Prince of Thailand. The degree was awarded in recognition of
her long standing work for the environment and, of course, the animals
under her care.
Sangduen Chailert (Lek) was born in a small rural mountain village of
Baan Lao. Situated some 60 km from Chiang Mai, provincial capital of the
same named province. She was educated locally achieving a BA from Chiang
Mai Rajabhat University. From humble beginnings, hard work and sheer
determination has brought her to forefront of efforts in Asia to save
The ceremony was witnessed by 5,000 dignitaries, graduate students,
community and guests at Chiang Mai University.
Debussy Festival in Chiangmai continues
By Jan Verwers
If you knew that the French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
wrote over 80 compositions for the piano, and that pianist Bennett
Lerner is planning to play them all, here in Chiangmai, you will realize
that the first four recitals during the past season must have a
follow-up. And that is what is going to happen. More concerts are on the
The formula will be the same. Bennett Lerner has invited several of his
musical friends to perform together with him, both music by Debussy and
also by other, partly comtemporary, composers.
The new series starts Saturday, June 3, 2006. On that evening Bennett’s
Friends will be violinist Tasana Nagavajara, and cellist Apichai
Leamthong, with music by Debussy, Copland and Fauré.
In August there will be an all-piano night. Santi Saengtong and Remi
Namtep, together with Bennett Lerner, will present music for two, four
and six hands by Debussy, Griffes, Ibert, Rieti and Chabrier.
In November, Kit Young, former piano teacher at Payap, will be back from
Burma. She will add Burmese music for piano to the program with
compositions by Debussy, Prangcharoen and Young.
Vocal music will be on the last concert of the next season. In February
Bennett Lerner will be joined by soprano Sheilagh Angpiroj, baritone
Book Kittavadhana and by the Payap University Mens Chorus, conducted by
Ayu Namtep. There will compositions by Debussy, Biscardi, Britten,
Copland and Schubert.
Chiangmai’s Debussy Festival will end as it began. The “Grand Finale”
will start with the presentation: Great Performers Playing Debussy.
Video-recordings with artists such as Heifetz, Arrau, Michelangeli and
Souzay, the conductors Munch and Stowkowski and the New York City Ballet
will bring famous Debussy presentations from the past. Later that
evening during the closing concert, no less than 15 Friends will join
Bennett Lerner in a great final tribute to Claude Debussy.
Bennett Lerner and his Friends will then join the “Supper Under the
Stars”, at La Gondola Restaurant, where all music lovers in Chiangmai
For more information about A Debussy Festival, write to Jan Verwers at:
[email protected] or phone him at 053-868-209 or 09-757-9875.