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

Distinguished musician to visit Chiang Mai

Forbidden Love, Passion, Music

A new regard for the elephant?

Northern Thai Group presents Stephan Turner talk, ‘Treading the boards’

Airline gives away return tickets and tours to mark release of new movie in Thailand

 

Distinguished musician to visit Chiang Mai

Jean-Pierre Kirkland
This forthcoming February 2552 (2009), Chiang Mai Music Festival will once again be featuring the distinguished musician and co-founder of the event, Korean-born professor of music, Tong-Il Han. The festival will feature free piano workshops as well as live musical performances in youth-focused concerts in various Chiang Mai schools.

Distinguished musician and co-founder of the Chiang Mai Music Festival, Korean-born professor of music, Tong-Il Han.

The Festival Gala Concert will be held on Saturday February 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ban Wangtan Concert Stage, and will include selections from a number of the most romantic piano concerti ever written.
Tong-Il Han is Chair Professor of Music at the College of Music at the University of Ulsan in the Republic of Korea. He is a most enlightened musician with a very distinguished career as a solo pianist, chamber musician, teacher, and festival organizer. For over three decades Tong-Il Han taught at several major universities in the United States, in Japan since 2001, and at a number of universities in Korea. In 2004 he returned to Korea, his land of birth, and since that time has dedicated his primary energies to nurturing young artists in the way he himself was nurtured by his great mentors.
His own renowned summer program, the Tong-Il Han Piano Institute, has been responsible for the promotion of young artistic talent all over the world, including the UK, Hungary, Canada, the United States and Japan. In 2006 he established the Tong-Il Han Piano Academy in Seoul, Republic of Korea for a select group of exceptionally gifted young Korean pianists whom he teaches intensively.
As a pianist of international renown, Tong-Il Han has performed with such distinguished orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic and the Russian National Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with other very illustrious musicians including Bernard Haitink, Edo de Wart, Charles Dutoit, Eugene Jochum and Stanislaw Skrowaczeski to name but a few.
In his very busy career, he has still found the time to release a number of recordings which feature major works by Chopin (including all 24 preludes, complete scherzos and ballades), sonatas by Schubert and Brahms and 9 Beethoven sonatas, as well as other CDs of romantic classical music.
In recognition of this man’s outstanding contribution to music and to his country, the Korean government has awarded Tong-Il Han with its most coveted and prestigious civil honour, the Order of Moran (Peony). We are very delighted that Professor Tong-Il Han once more will be enchanting audiences here in Chiang Mai with his expertise, good humour and devotion to music-making for all. Roll on February!

 

Forbidden Love, Passion, Music

CMM reporters
After the Christmas and New Year break, the Chiang Mai concert season seems to be up and running again. One of the most anticipated of January’s events must surely be the third in the ongoing series of Faure concerts given by one of Chiang Mai’s most loved and appreciated musicians, Bennett Lerner.
On January 31, at Payap’s Saisuree Chutikul Music Hall, Bennett joins with mezzo-soprano Sheilagh Angpiroj to present ‘Nocturnes and Barcarolles, Part 3’. This concert, the third in an ongoing series exploring the world of the artistic Parisian salons of the Belle Époque and the music of Gabriel Fauré, will celebrate two famous love affairs that took place in the year 1894.
Fauré, mild-spoken, but a womanizer, and Emma Bardac, a rich woman with a lovely voice who fancied herself a muse, chased after composers, and who later married Debussy, had, in the French manner, an openly-acknowledged passionate and creative love affair. Fauré would compose songs during the day and in the evening Emma would sing them before a gathering of Fauré’s family and friends. Their love produced Fauré’s most passionate song cycle, La Bonne Chanson, which will be performed in this concert by mezzo-soprano Sheilagh Angpiroj, accompanied by Bennett.
The charming and talented Venezuelan composer Reynaldo Hahn arrived in Paris at the age of 10 and immediately became the darling of the salons. In 1894, at the age of 19, he met the great French writer Marcel Proust, four years his senior, and they became lovers. They remained close friends until Proust’s death in 1922 and it was Hahn who closed Proust’s eyes.
Hahn’s piano suite, Portraits of Painters, was written in 1894, just after the two had met, and was inspired by their love and, more directly, by some of Proust’s poems. The work will be performed by Bennett Lerner.
Forbidden love, passion, music - she loved his music, he loved her voice, they were married to others but their love resulted in a passionate song cycle. He loved the other’s music and the other loved his poems. Their forbidden love resulted in a charming piano suite.
A concert celebrating two famous love affairs of 1894: Gabriel Fauré and Emma Bardac; Reynaldo Hahn and Marcel Proust. Passionate, intense, creative, daring - Don’t miss it!


A new regard for the elephant?

Elephants with their mahouts,
pictured at the annual Elephant Polo festival in Chiang Rai.

Elena Edwards
The elephant, in spite of the diminution of its numbers in the wild, is still, perhaps, the most potent cultural symbol of Thailand and its surrounding South East Asian neighbours. In legend, an elephant and a monkey are believed to have brought water and honey to the fasting Buddha, thus aiding him on his journey towards enlightenment. At the time of the Buddha’s death, an elephant is believed to have been the first to mourn over his body. Small wonder then, that in South East Asia, the elephant has historically been regarded as divine.
This regard, however, seems to have been lost in the mists of time during the rush to modernise and commercialise the countries in which elephants used to roam free. In Laos, for example, it is estimated that there are only approximately 1,500 of the giant pachyderms left in the wild, far less than is necessary to sustain a gene pool which will ensure their continuance as a local species.
Fortunately, there are many Western foundations and organisations whose mission is to protect and preserve the diminishing numbers in order to prevent the magnificent beasts becoming just another South East Asian tourist attraction presenting elephants trained by cruel methods with no regard for their welfare.
ElefantAsia, a French non- profit organisation hosted by the National Animal Health Centre in Vientiane, has been working in the Sayaboury province of Laos since 2001. The area is home to 75% of the country’s domesticated elephant population and one of the country’s biggest wild herds, with a resultant deeply rooted mahout traditions. For the last two years the organisation has been providing technical assistance to the Vientiane Centre’s livestock department and to Lao mahouts.
ElefantAsia concentrates its efforts in three directions: veterinary care, educational and environmental awareness and economic viability for mahouts. The organisation has devised a special mobile veterinary care unit, which welcomes intern veterinarians from all over the world who are willing to acquire hands-on, in-field training in the care of the Asian elephant. A breeding programme is also being launched.
The organisation is paying particular attention to sustainable economic alternatives for mahouts who, with their elephants, still work in the logging industry. To aid in the transition from logging to more environmentally friendly ventures, ElefantAsia has created the Lao Mahouts Association, which aims to develop quality ecotourism which will benefit both the elephants and their mahouts. Promotion of eco-friendly elephant trekking is endorsed, bringing not only an awareness to tourists of the correct manner of training and utilising the elephants, but also a percentage of the revenue from the scheme, which is put towards the expenses of the mobile veterinary unit.
ElefantAsia is just one of a number of groups working across South East Asia for the benefit of elephants and their mahouts. There are also organisations working in the wild, whose aims include the replanting of the natural forests in order to sustain the indigenous elephant population and prevent its numbers from declining further.
It would seem that the elephant has acquired another kind of regard, as the massive and ancient representative of all natural species which have been placed at risk by the developments of the last several hundred years.
For more information about ElefantAsia, please visit www.elefantasia.org


Northern Thai Group presents Stephan Turner talk, ‘Treading the boards’

CMM Reporters
The 308th meeting of the Informal Northern Thai Group will take place on January 13 at 7 30 p.m. at the Alliance Francaise, and will feature a talk by Stephan Turner, the founder of and moving spirit behind Chiang Mai’s Gate Theatre Company. In the three years since its inception, productions presented by the company have included The Dodo Bird, The Gin Game, Strange Snow and The Eight Reindeer Monologues.
Stephan will talk about his theatre background and his father, who at the age of 82 is still a prolific playwright, producer, and performer, and who influenced his son’s decision to make theatre his career. The path that career has taken began when Stephan co-founded his first community theatre company in Gary, Indiana in the late 1970’s, experienced 4 years training at the world famous Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now known as The Theatre School of DePaul University), and went on to found the Stage Actors’ Ensemble of Chicago. He continued by opening the Performance Loft Theatre, which he built on the north side of Chicago.
His talk will also include the ups and downs of producing plays in Chiang Mai, and plans for future productions.


Airline gives away return tickets and tours to mark release of new movie in Thailand

The premium Indian airline, Jet Airways, which is the major sponsor of the 3D animated movie Bal Ganesh, will give away six package tours to India, including return airline tickets. The tours will have a Ganesh theme and will include visits to famous Ganesh and Buddhist sites. The winners will be chosen in a lucky draw which will be held on February 14.
The Manager of Jet Airways in Thailand, Lackana Wantaywin, said that the airline is sponsoring the movie because it will introduce young people to the shared heritage of Thailand and India. The story of Bal Ganesh is about the life of the elephant god Ganesh who is known in Thailand as PhraPikanet, the deity of wisdom, good fortune and the remover of obstacles.
She says the movie will be an inspiration for many young people as it will help them to see how they succeed in their lives despite obstacles.
“Jet Airways is proud to be associated with Bal Ganesh as we are the spirit of new India, helping people to discover new horizons,” Lackana said.
January 5 saw the gala opening of the 3D animation movie in Thailand. It opened in 32 theatres simultaneously in Bangkok and was screened nationwide from January 8. More than one million people are expected to view the movie in Thailand, which will run until the end of January.