Vol. V No. 19 - Saturday May 6, - May 12, 2006
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OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Charity concert with Crystal Singing Bowls

Songkran 2006 in Chiang Mai

An exceptional violin recital in Chiangmai

Park Founder receives honorary PhD from Crown Prince

Debussy Festival in Chiangmai continues

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 few baht.
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 moat.


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.

Maestro Vadim Tchijik.
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 opportunity.
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 elephant.
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 agenda.
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 are welcome.
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.



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