A glamorous night commemorates HRH Prince
Rapee Pattanasak, the father of modern Thai law
Pictured are the organisers of the gala,
one of the most glamorous nights of the year.
Palapol Polkongseng singing from the dance
Every year, the Kromluang Ratchaburidirekrit Foundation Committee organizes
a number of events in tribute to the late HRH Kromluang Ratchaburidirekrit
Prince Rapee Pattanasak for his great contribution to the establishment of a
strong and secure status for modern Thai law. On August 7, Prince Rapee Day
itself, a huge Gala at the Empress Hotel’s Convention Centre celebrated the
work and life of this extraordinary man.
Over 700 people, from the judiciary, the police and the general public,
gathered for the evening, dressed in their most glamorous frocks and smart
suits. The event included dance performances from the Chiang Mai Ballet
Academy, the Dance Zone and a fashion show featuring Chiang Mai’s top
designers such as Kuntalee Rapipong from Jolie Femme, (also the
vice-chairman of Chiang Mai Cultural Council), Tananan Willson from Tananan
Willson Haute Couture, Sumate Pankaew from Classic Model, Worakorn
Wongwithkarn from Fai Ngam, Apinporn Kiratipoomtham from Yodaya and Montri
Kanhapakorn with Manachai Triross from Maross. Celebrity models included Dr.
George Sioris, the former Greek Ambassador with his wife Dararat, Sirine
Baude, Ongkarn Chaiongkarn, Rachan Veeraphan, the honorary consul of
Bangladesh, and HRH Prince Rapee Pattanasak’s three great-grandsons and
daughter, Akkapak, Warakorn, Rawipa and Rabibhad Asavaraksh.
Mayuree Jamigranont, chief of judges Region 5 and president of the
foundation, with Komkrit Wanapiboon, chief of the Juvenile and Family Court
and chairman of the Rapee Dinner Party Organising Committee and the
foundation committee, presented bouquets of flowers and commemorative
plaques to the designers, in acknowledgement of their valuable contribution
to the event.
The Empress Hotel served a delicious Chinese meal, whilst the 33rd
Regimental Band played both Thai and Western music. Palapol Polkongseng, a
famous Thai singer flown in from Bangkok especially for the occasion, had
the young ladies screaming with excitement, and filled the dance floor with
revellers of all ages - definitely one of the most popular performances of
Following Palapol’s concert, two round-trip Chiang Mai-Bangkok tickets,
donated by Bangkok Airways, were drawn for two lucky winners by Yong
Surainrungsikul, the president of the Appeal Court, followed by a Latin
Dance Show given by the Chiang Mai Ballet Academy. Afterwards, the dance
floor was packed yet again by the crowds, and the party went on until
One of the organisers, Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat, Honorary Consul of the
Republic of Peru, an associate judge at the Juvenile and Family Court and a
committee member of the foundation, explained that the foundation supports
and distributes education in law and research to people in Northern
Thailand. It also provides scholarships for students in Northern colleges
and universities, who lack the necessary funds but achieve good academic
results, and promotes and conserves Lanna art and culture. The foundation is
not involved or related to any political parties.
If you are arranging an event, why not invite
[email protected] to drop by for a few photographs.
Friendship without Borders - Zonta’s Charity Benefit Gala
Fashion Shows are fashionable…
Three of the grandmothers and their
grandchildren are introduced to guests.
On August 9, Zonta International Chiang Mai held a Charity Benefit Gala
entitled ‘Friendship without Borders’ in aid of their Grandma Orphan
Care Project. Held at the Centara Duangtawan Hotel, the event was
sponsored and organised at short notice by La Gondola.
Kalmapijit pictured with some of the models showing the clothes from the
Maetamam Elephant Camp.
Guests of honour included Chao Duangdeun na Chiengmai and the honorary
French Consul Thomas Baude, with his wife Chamaiphan. After an excellent
buffet, guests were introduced to three of the “grandmas” with their
granddaughters and were told a little of the history of Zonta. 10 years
ago Zonta International Chiang Mai was formed to help the 100 or so
local women of Chiang Mai who had contracted HIV and AIDS, most of whom
contracted the disease through their husbands. They were unable to work
and often stigmatised against as drugs and help were not readily
available in those days. Since then all of the women have passed away
and their children have been left, in the care of their grandmothers.
These grandmothers are too old to work, and have to support themselves
and their ‘new charges’. Under the Zonta Grandma Orphan Care Project,
people can adopt a grandma for as little as 300 baht a month.
Afterwards, guests were delighted to be entertained by dances from the
children, both traditional Thai and modern. This was followed by a
fashion show, kindly on loan from Anchalee Kalmapijit, depicting clothes
from the Maetaman Elephant Camp. Elegant female and male models strutted
the catwalk, showing off beautiful silks and designs painted by the
elephants and created by local dress designers. Anchalee explained that
this is a perfect example of elephants and humans working together
producing something beautiful, whilst contributing to research into
elephant care and an artificial insemination project. Subsequently,
paintings donated by the elephant camp were auctioned.
When asked why he had sponsored the event, khun Jim from La Gondola
replied, “When I learnt from Red Cross records that an estimate of
almost a thousand of these grandmas are living all over Chiang Mai
province, I became clear and focused on making a merit for these
struggling elderly ‘moms’ on this Mother’s Day occasion. In a very short
period, I managed to organise this event, with the hope that more people
would be aware of these suffering souls. It’s hard enough for them to
survive; yet, they try to stay alive for their grandchildren.”
A donation of 24,000 baht plus an adoption of a grandma for one year,
(3,600 baht), was raised. All donations, with no costs deducted, will be
handed over to Zonta on Mothers Day, August 12. If any organization or
individual wishes to top up the donation, they may contact khun Jim on
081 289 5214 or contact Zonta’s treasurer Dr. Amphawan directly on 081
724 0572. An official receipt will be issued for every donation.
Chiang Mai Celebrates Mothers Day
Julie, Siree, Aran and Andrew (standing)
with Michal and Kathryn (seated)
chose the Holiday Inn to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Pongkrit, Sittichoke, Chao Wongsak na
Chiengmai and Chanida na
Chiengmai decided on the Pasta Cafe to celebrate Mothers Day.
Dr Lina, President of the Soroptimists
celebrates her tweenteen birthday on the same day as Her Majesty the
at the La Gritta, Amari Rincome hotel.
At the Empress on Mother’s Day, Ging, Gift,
Jeff and Dao (l/r) enjoying their lunch.
Jaang, Ome, Eak and Jeab enjoying their
Mothers Day at D2 Moxie Restaurant.
Richard, Kim and Kris (standing) with Steve,
Janie and Leigh (seated)
at the China Palace for a very special lunch on Mothers Day.
The Leemasawat family decided to celebrate
Mothers Day at the Imperial Mae Ping.
The Bushell and Roberts families at the
Shangri La for their Mother’s Day Brunch.
Munich – A celebration of opera and music
When most people are asked what they know about Munich, the
reply is often the Oktoberfest or Bierfest - a solid week of beer
swilling and local sausage guzzling, renowned the world over as the
largest of its kind. And of course, Munich does possess some of the
finest beers in the world. It is also known for its football teams and
sadly, for the tragedy of the deaths at the Olympics there in the 1970s,
while many people still remember the air crash that wiped out many of
Manchester United’s players some 50 years ago or so at the old airport.
However, Munich is also home to one of the great Opera Houses of Europe,
left undamaged by the war and now refurbished in splendid condition.
This year is also the 850th anniversary of the founding of the town, now
an important city in southern Germany, and so a large number of special
events are being held to celebrate that date. The most ambitious of
these was the Opera Festival, stretching over nearly 6 weeks in June and
July with 20 operas, 2 ballets and a large number of other musical
events by members of the orchestra or singers, such as 3 chamber
concerts, 2 open-air operas, 3 workshops and 5 lieder (song) recitals,
as well as 2 Gala Concerts and other events.
One of the dangers for the more traditional operagoer these days, and
especially in Germany, is the fact that eccentric directors and
producers there have meddled so seriously with the composers’ and
librettists’ original instructions and intentions, that the operas
themselves are often visually incongruous and can be utterly ludicrous.
Luckily, Munich is at the heart of conservative Germany where for the
most part traditional values still mean something. The opera festival
itself also had a strong focus on the works of Bavarian born composer
Richard Strauss, himself a very traditional and conservative man who
left the world a rich heritage of operas, most of which are regularly
performed today. Strauss, no relation to the so called ‘waltz-king and
family’, wrote many of his operas not far from Munich, in Garmisch,
where, in the early 1900s, he built a wonderful villa from the proceeds
of the highly successful Der Rosenkavalier and the extremely
Thus it was very fitting that both of the above works featured amongst
the operas performed during the festival. Der Rosenkavalier was staged,
as it should be, in the world of aristocratic Vienna at the time of the
empress Maria-Theresia. The opera was the first of six collaborations
between Strauss and his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal; the singing
was excellent throughout and the audience burst into spontaneous
applause at the glorious sets that opened Act 2; Angela Denoke excelled
as the Feldmarschallin and John Tomlinson was a successfully decadent
and sleazy Baron Ochs. Anke Vondung made a most handsome and presentable
Octavian with a soaring quality to the voice that perfectly matched the
slightly less forceful voice of Simone Nold as Sophie. The famous trio
towards the end of Act 3 was pure magic with the three sopranos singing
together in a manner that showed deep understanding and great love for
this unique piece of operatic writing. Throughout this opera and others,
the orchestra played in fine form - the rich texture of Strauss’ score
being exploited to the full, while respecting the more lusciously tender
moments so typical of the composer’s scoring (What a great pity that the
two-volumed Thai textbooks on the ‘World’s Great Composers’ does not
include a chapter on Strauss - a most serious omission!). Members of the
audience to whom I spoke after the performance were united in their
praise, several stating it was the best-ever production they had seen.
After many visits to this opera in London, New York, Manchester, Paris
and Vienna, I was happy to agree.
Salome was also staged but coupled with a modern opera, mercifully
short, Das Gehege (The Cage). The renowned Gabriele Schnaut was required
to screech and bawl a totally tuneless score for 30 minutes, while a
non-singing bird creature, looking like a cross between an ostrich and a
crow, initially caged, later strutted and fretted around the stage. The
audience, judging by the muted and restrained applause, was not
impressed. Nor was I. Salome was a very different proposition - staged
in a minimalist setting but making excellent use of lighting, the erotic
plot and subsequent decadent death scenes were played out in a gripping
yet horrific way. The only sad and I must say stupid part was when the
ridiculous bird thing from the previous opera made another unwarranted
and superfluous appearance while Salome performed her celebrated and
notorious Dance of the Seven Veils. Once again Angela Denoke excelled in
the lead part and gave the audience all the eroticism that the original
Oscar Wilde script contained. The previous evening, the above mentioned
Gabrielle Schnaut gave a stunning performance as Elektra very ably
supported by the now legendary Agnes Baltsa and Eva Maria Westbroek.
Again, the set was minimalist but with very stunning lighting which
complemented the manic and obsessive nature of the plot admirably; and
Elektra herself made a wonderful exit swinging a huge axe from a small
platform jutting out over the orchestra pit before finally collapsing
dead at the final curtain - dramatic, effective, terrifying even (one
American sitting close to the swinging axe said he was quite worried it
might slip from her hands and land in the audience!) but beautiful in
that strange eerie ‘Straussian’ kind of way. And the orchestra again
excelled in this harsh and sometimes dissonant score that penetrates the
ears and even the soul with its repeated chords and rhythms. This was an
So indeed was Massenet’s Werther, an opera, in my view, not performed
regularly enough these days. The sets were a little strange with
graffiti-type writing everywhere but effective use was made of a
revolving stage and the singers had no difficulty projecting their
voices in some of the great arias and duets the opera contains. Piotr
Beczala gave a magnificent performance as Werther and Vesselina Kasarova
was a good Charlotte although her voice did not match the power of
Beczala’s. Unfortunately, this was marred by a very weak and stupid
production of another Strauss masterpiece, Arabella. The sets were
impossible - a dome shaped pile of paper formed the floor of the stage
upon which the singers balanced precariously (and often slipped!) as
they attempted to move on this ridiculous surface. The dome structure,
meant no doubt to represent the ever accumulating debts of Graf Waldner,
Arabella’s father, was then littered with pieces of furniture set at
equally precarious angles, the centerpiece being a bed - the sole
purpose of which appeared to be for the cast to have something to hold
on to as they tried to move! Nor did the set change for Act 2, meant to
be in a ballroom, and the producer allowed one of the great
‘unthinkables’ in staging - merging the second and third acts together,
even though their settings are in entirely different locations. I use
the word unthinkable here quite deliberately because of the tragic
history of this great opera. This was the final collaboration between
Strauss and Hofmannsthal who had in fact only completed Act 1 of the
libretto and had submitted to Strauss several sketches for the rest of
the opera; Hofmannsthal’s son then committed suicide and at the funeral,
Hofmannsthal himself collapsed from a massive stroke and died almost
instantly. Out of respect for his friend and colleague, Strauss left
what had been submitted of the words unaltered even though he had
already written to Hofmannsthal before the tragedy - a letter he never
received - suggesting several changes. Strauss so respected his partner
that he wrote the remainder of the libretto around the sketches which is
as we know it today. What a great pity directors and producers cannot
show the same respect for musicians and poets when producing their
works. It made me both sad and angry to see a delightful period piece
destroyed in this way. The singing was average only and Pamela
Armstrong, who stepped in for an indisposed Anja Harteros was booed and
hissed during the curtain calls; half the audience left without
applauding and the remainder gave the piece a muted reception - director
Andreas Homoki please note!
The operas were wonderfully supported by chamber concerts, gala concerts
and several ‘Liederabend’ (song recital evenings). The most notable of
these was the emerging tenor Jonas Kaufmann who gave a magnificent
performance of Schubert’s early work, ‘Die Burgschaft’ (D.246), Benjamin
Britten’s ‘Seven Sonnets after Michelangelo’ but the highlight was the
set of Strauss songs that occupied the whole of the second half.
Although written for soprano (Strauss did not care for male voices at
all, especially the tenor!), Kaufman gave a sensitive and lyrical
interpretation, exceptionally beautiful in the four songs (Opus 27) that
Strauss wrote as a wedding present for his wife the soprano Pauline de
Anha. Kaufman excelled in all of these but especially in his emotional
interpretation of the hauntingly nostalgic and beautiful song ‘Morgen’.
Kaufman, a name to watch, is a Munich born musician and the audience
erupted in pleasure at every opportunity - 15 curtain calls and 4
encores - says it all, I think!
Aside from the music, Munich is also a great place to visit, with its
friendly welcoming people, its charming cafes, and numerous and varied
restaurants, its magnificent Baroque town hall with its hourly chiming
clock and its rotating figurines on a high balcony, enticing markets
like the fresh produce market, delightful parks and gardens, good
museums and galleries and one of the best most fully integrated
transport systems to get you about the city and its environs at a
reasonable price. And also how convenient a location, too, for days
further afield - to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Alpine foothills 90
minutes away by train, Salzburg birthplace of Mozart some 80 minutes
away and the lovely historic town of Augsburg just over half an hour
away - just to mention a few. But overall, a wonderful and exciting
festival which the city can be justly proud of - a celebration of
culture, with the emphasis on music, and a gathering of people from all
over the world to help this city establish itself as a truly important
world cultural centre. Following the lead set above, how wonderful it
might be if all the various music groups and other interested parties
came together in Chiang Mai and planned a small but concentrated music
festival - with classical, jazz, and traditional Thai music! After all,
Chiang Mai is one of the most important cultural centres in south-east
Asia and we have the venues, a great deal of musical and traditional
talent and a ready-made audience.