Art, Music & Culture
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

New gallery brings fresh definition of art to Chiang Mai

Montford College boys present a choral evening of excellence

Dynamic ‘Duo’ give virtuoso performance at Payap

Full house for Lanna spirits at Single Mothers’ charity evening

The European Union Film Festival 2008 comes to Chiang Mai

 

New gallery brings fresh definition of art to Chiang Mai

George Powell
A new art gallery opened its doors for the first time on November 20 with an exhibit by artists whose inspiration may well have a new twist.

Gallery Owner Joy Kelly (centre) surrounded by artists and models.

‘Look at This’, situated on Nimmanhaemindha Road opposite the Amari Rincome Hotel, is run by Joy Kelly and her husband Marshall, who welcomed all their friends, the Chiang Mai ‘art world’, and the artists whose work was on show on their first night.
Marshall explained that his vision was to introduce to the city’s art-lovers a new and modern facility with excellent lighting – a new generation of art gallery. Most importantly, the gallery will display works which define ‘art’ in a new way, with inspirations drawn from both from the natural and the digital world.
For their first exhibition, works by Chiang Mai University lecturer Chatchawan Nilsakul and a new and upcoming artist, Chessada Inthaphan, are being shown.
‘Look at This’ art gallery is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. until 9.p.m.

 

Montford College boys present a choral evening of excellence

Jean-Pierre Kirkland
Entitled ‘We Love Singing’, Payap University’s Suraisee Hall was the setting on Friday, November 21 for a delightful evening of rich and varied songs from across the world sung by the two choirs from Montford College. It was also really gratifying to see the hall full of the supportive parents and relatives of this accomplished boys’ choir.
Founded 14 years ago, the choir has a distinguished record already and is divided into two groups; the main college choir and a junior choir.
Introducing the songs, grouped into short sets of threes and fours, were two students who gave us a humorous and most professional series of introductions throughout the evening – they were so full of confidence and good nature that they had the 90% Thai audience in the palm of their hands from the very start.
The main boys’ choir itself, about 20 in number, performed with great enthusiasm and energy as they moved through their varied repertoire – and wonderfully accompanied on the piano by Papaporn Wangrisavivit. Her delicate, supportive yet firm touch enabled the choir to perform without any interference at all, enabling them to give of their best. This was especially true when an older soloist, Nappawan Sangkakan delivered a tender version of Away in a Manger with the choir humming the accompaniment to the gently rippling sounds from the piano. But the highlight of this section was a really pulsating rendition of the Erie Canal, sung with panache and flair, clear diction and enchanting harmonies.
It was in the second half of the concert that the choir really came into its own. This was partly due to the fact that at this point they had warmed to the occasion and also due to the more interesting and appropriate choice of material for young singers.
When the 35-strong junior choir marched onto the platform singing two vibrant African numbers, with drum and rattle accompaniment from choir members, the audience reaction was one of immense delight and pleasure. They sang with gusto and determination, very ably led by their own choirmaster Pratit Wangwong.
Not to be upstaged, back came the main boys’ choir, this time launching into the famous Kum Ba Yah and ending with a great version of the 1960’s hit Da Doo Ron Ron, of which even the original artists The Crystals with their producer Phil Specter would have been so proud.
The two choirs combined to a 55-strong ensemble with guitars and percussion for their coda, delivered with enthusiastic gestures and a fond farewell. Their conductor, Supamit Prasobkiet, can be justly proud of his choir who charmed their audience, many of whom expressed their enjoyment and contentment to me after the performance. Well done, Montford!


Dynamic ‘Duo’ give virtuoso performance at Payap

Jean-Pierre Kirkland
The Saisuree Hall at Payap University was almost filled to capacity for the second time in two days on Saturday November 22 for this wonderful and stimulating concert. Arranged through the University’s College of Music and the Thai-Japan Center, we were treated to a superb evening of violin and piano music from two most professional and devoted performers; Yuriko Shigemasu on violin and Sachiko Namekawa on piano.
Both performers have distinguished and professional backgrounds with studies in Japan, London, Vienna and Switzerland. For lovers of good music this really was an inspiring performance from both players.
In the opening piece, Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch, Yuriko provided us with a delicious tone on the violin that highlighted this melodic romantic music, an interpretation which was sweet, rapturous and delicate. The piano accompaniment was elegant, expressive and totally supportive.
The evening continued in similar vein with a great contrast being provided by the Tchaikovsky Waltz-Scherzo, the very difficult passages tackled by both performers with great dexterity and skill. In the delightfully Romany-inspired Zigeunerweisen by Sarasate, the audience was enthralled by the elaborate and often complex rhythms and harmonies of this unusual piece of folk-like music, with excellent tone and control from the violin.
After a short break, the concert continued with three pieces by Chopin which Sachiko played with appropriate balance and forcefulness, especially in the Opus 28 number 17 prelude performed with beautifully calm and deeply expressive moments. The marvelous co-ordination between these two very distinguished players was nowhere better exemplified than in their final offering, Cesar Frank’s awe-inspiring Violin Sonata in A. The interpretation here was like a magic carpet ride through a Van Gogh landscape – full of rich textures, bright colours and startling contrasts.
The performance was truly inspirational, played with passion, exuberance and great lyricism allowing the tones and harmonies to add sensitivity and forcefulness to the music. A seemingly effortless encore brought this breathtaking and amazing evening to a delightful close. Let us all hope Yuriko and Sachiko will be back soon. This was their second appearance in the University and many people to whom I spoke are already looking forward to their return visit with eager anticipation.


Full house for Lanna spirits at Single Mothers’ charity evening

Michael Davies &
Elena Edwards

The charity evening at Café Pandau last week in aid of the Single Mothers’ Project was a huge, standing room only success thanks to a fascinating presentation by Michael Pearce on ‘The Thai Spirit House.’
A PhD graduate in religious studies, Michael has been researching his subject for some time by conducting fieldwork mostly in Chiang Mai, and the result of this was his initial presentation of a paper, entitled, ‘Spirit Houses in Northern Thailand,’ at the University of Colorado’s recent Media, Spirituality and Religious Change conference.
His talk at Café Pandau centred on the cultural aspects and development of the two main types of Lanna Thai spirit house, and also considered how they are regarded in these modern times.
The first type of spirit house, sarn phra phum, are identifiable by the tiny figures of people they contain and are placed to honour the spirits of the original owners and occupiers of the land itself. They have steps leading up to the main platform, and are supported on a pedestal. Each morning, the present occupants of the house, before they take breakfast, will make an offering of incense and food to the spirits in residence.
The second style, sarn jao thi, embraces a tradition which goes back to early Brahmanism, and honours Phra Brahma, the God of creation. Each of its four open sides reveals one of the four faces of the statue inside, each in turn representing the virtues of kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. Offerings may be made when there is bad luck, bad dreams, illness, or other disasters.
When a Spirit House becomes old and in need of replacement, it must not just be thrown away - there are particular procedures which must be followed, involving a Buddhist or Brahmin priest. Once these are complete, the spirit house can then be taken to a nearby Wat, where it will be placed in a designated and blessed spirit house graveyard. It is believed that, if, in death, a spirit house does not rest in peace, its former owner will find no peace in life.
Following Michael’s presentation, a fabulous buffet in Northern Thai fusion style was provided, together with drinks, which rounded off a very enjoyable and, for a change, educational evening - all for the benefit of the Single Mothers’ Project.

It was standing room only at Café Pandau
for Michael Pearce’s lecture on Thai spirit houses.


The European Union Film Festival 2008 comes to Chiang Mai

Thomas Ohlson
The European Union Film Festival 2008 will be held at the Vista cinema complex at Kad Suan Kaew from December 11 to 21.  This edition of the annual event will showcase 17 fairly recent, highly anticipated, and award-winning films from EU member nations. Tickets for the Chiang Mai showings will cost 70 baht.  All films will be shown in the original language with English subtitles except for the UK entry Control, which is subtitled in Thai.
Speaking about the festival, Dr. Friedrich Hamburger, head of the delegation of the European Commission to Thailand, said, “For 17 years, the European Union Film Festival has given Thai film lovers the chance to enjoy European cinema at its best.  This year’s festival boasts an outstanding line up, showcasing the diversity of European cinema and the talent of its filmmakers.”  He describes the variety of themes which run through this year’s festival line-up:
“Sense of place and society is explored by a number of films.  In the Czech Republic’s Empties a literature professor, unable to understand his students, abandons his post to work in a local supermarket; Bulgaria’s Monkeys in Winter explores in three mini-films the stark choices that life can present; Portugal’s Skin looks at racism as a rich, beautiful and intelligent woman faces discrimination due to her colour; while Spain’s El Balancín de Ivan sees a family hide out from a brutal military regime in 1970s Argentina.
“The strength of family ties are the focus of Sweden’s Darlecarlians where three sisters return to a small village to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday; the Netherlands’ Northern Lights follows the fallout when a father-son relationship unravels; Poland’s It Will Be Well tells a story of a young runner who vows to help his ailing mother by making a pilgrimage; while Italy’s The Ball follows a young boy’s efforts to set his mother up with the right man.
“The forces that divide cultures are examined in Germany’s powerful and multi-award winning The Edge of Heaven in which a Turkish son finds it in his heart to forgive his father while a German mother decides to forgive and help her daughter’s Turkish lover.  The cross-cultural theme is also explored in Luxembourg’s Arabian Nights in which a train conductor leaves his comfortable and familiar surroundings to travel to Algeria in search of a mysterious woman.
“Also being shown in the festival are Austria’s Come, Sweet Death in which a failed, alcoholic cop investigates one last case; Belgium’s King of the World tells a story of the rise and fall of a young boxing champ; Finland’s The Leaning Tower sees an ailing couple journey to Italy in an attempt to see Pisa’s leaning tower; France’s Ulzhan follows a quest for treasure and love across Central Asia’s endless steppes; Greece’s One Day in August sees three couples take their marital problems on holiday; the UK’s multi-award winning Control is a biopic of doomed Joy Division singer Ian Curtis; while Hungary’s Porcelain Doll comprises three fairy stories with magical farmers coming up against the laws of the surrounding world.”