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Chiang Mai International Dance Festival 2009 needs our help

Nocturnes and Barcarolles – and much more

 

Chiang Mai International Dance Festival 2009 needs our help

Elena Edwards
From March 22-25, the city of Chiang Mai will enjoy the most significant and varied international dance and music programme ever seen outside the capital, when the International Dance Festival, organised by the Friends-of-the-Arts foundation, transfers from a highly successful season in Bangkok and Phuket to the Rose of the North.
The Friends-of-the-Arts foundation was established to support and encourage young talented and professional Thai artistes through the organisation of performances, workshops, seminars and exhibitions; to promote the performing arts to the public; to establish exchange programmes internationally, and to network and collaborate with individual performance artist Its final aim should speak to all our hearts—to educate and open all our minds to the joy of life through the performing arts.
The foundation is a self- supporting non- profit entity, donating a part of its proceeds to charities which work towards the well-being of children, families and communities in Thailand. Throughout the year, performances are staged to raise funds and to encourage young, talented Thais to perform in a professional environment with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and stage props. A scholarship programme provides 15 grants each year to young performance artists throughout the kingdom, with the collaboration of NJ Magazine and the Dance Centre’s school of performing arts. Young Thai choreographers are also selected, and given the opportunity to stage their works at events organized by the Friends-of-the-Arts foundation. Also, an internationally recognized therapy programme is now being established in Thailand through the sponsored training of 20 Thai movement therapists. The foundation operates through donations from individuals and corporate entities, and through sponsorship of performances. Funds raised at the performances are channelled back to support future projects, events and further performances.
The festival is being organised in partnership with the Thai Ministry of Culture and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. In Chiang Mai, the programme will include a Gala performance at the Amari Rincome and Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotels, public workshops, professional master classes, public performances, and a chance for young local talent to perform. International professional artistes and dance groups from a number of countries will take part, including the amazing, multi-dimensionally talented and famous Janice Martin, classical violinist, singer, musician, dancer, acrobat—for more on Janice, please visit her website at www. janicemartin.com. Events and performances will take place at Thapae Gate, in the Walking Street, in schools, at Chiang Mai Museum, and on a special stage at the Three Kings’ Monument, as well as at the Amari Rincome and possibly the Mandarin Oriental. Confirmed participants will arrive from Argentina, China , Czech Republic, Egypt,, Israel, Italy, South Korea, France, Singapore, Sri Lanka, USA, India and, naturally, Thailand.
However, the present time is perhaps the worst time in living memory to launch such an event outside the capital! The foundation now needs our help in several ways in order to make the first Chiang Mai International Dance Festival a major triumph.
Firstly, transportation. Not surprisingly at present, sponsorship is unavailable from the local airlines which serve CMX – we are asking that anyone who has spare Thai Air air-miles might like to consider donating them to the project. Furthermore, accommodation for a number of artistes is still being sought; we would like to know if anyone would be willing to offer room and board for the duration of the festival. We would also like to suggest a ‘Sponsor an Artiste’ scheme, which would provide transportation to and from Chiang Mai/ Bangkok and accommodation. If anyone is able to help, in any manner, please do contact the event’s organisers on [email protected]
In addition to the three days of high-quality professional and international entertainment, Friends-of-the-Arts is looking for 30 young, talented local artistes in all fields to apply for an audition with a view to performing on stage at the Three Kings’ Monument. The festival will host a ‘Young Talent Stage’, presenting the most talented young artistes in the north of Thailand during the three hours before the main concert begins. The foundation believes the festival in Chiang Mai would not be complete if it did not give a chance to the young talent of which, in this city, there is so much. If you, or any young artiste whom you know, would like to apply, please, again, contact the official advisory committee responsible for the selection of the performing artists by contacting Linda Galloway by email on [email protected] gmail.com for further details of venue and times. All are welcome to audition, regardless of nationality.
Friends-of-the-Arts is also looking to appoint fundraisers for next year’s year Chiang Mai International Dance Festival 2010. These carefully selected persons will be official appointees of the Friends-of-the-Arts foundation.
Most people who read this will know of the Edinburgh Festival, held annually in Scotland’s capital, and famous for the number of talented performers who have received their first chance at its ‘fringe’ events. Edinburgh is situated amongst the foothills of mountain ranges, in the far north of the country—sounds familiar? Everyone involved in the “International Dance Festival” is hoping that it will be the springboard for the inception of an eventually massive annual Chiang Mai Festival, which will result in the same large number of talented young performers realizing their dreams, both nationally and internationally.
For further details and updates, please visit the Friends-of-the-Arts website at www. friends-of-the-Arts.info.

 

Nocturnes and Barcarolles – and much more

Jai-Pee
With a glorious backdrop of the famous Vincent van Gogh painting, ‘Starry Night,’ a reasonably sized audience was delighted by the third concert-recital in the Fauré Nocturnes and Barcarolles cycle by distinguished pianist Dr Bennett Lerner and his guest on this occasion, the mezzo-soprano Sheilagh Angviroj. And, Saturday night January 3 in the Saisuree Hall of Payap University provided us with a memorable and even beautifully starry night.
From the opening notes of the Fauré Barcarolle in G flat it was evident that Dr Bennett had a great love of this genre of late nineteenth century French Salon music. The piano painted a picture of the rippling waters around the ‘barca’ (Venetian gondola) in a smooth and wistful manner while in the next piece, the Barcarolle in A flat, the rhythm and flow of the piano perfectly matched the swirling clouds and bright stars of the van Gogh backdrop. The piano was played imperiously and with exquisite panache throughout. These two wonderful pieces were followed by the song cycle, ‘La Bonne Chanson,’ by Fauré, written at a time of great happiness and joy in the composer’s life with, quite naturally, the root of the joy lying in feminine charms! Sheilagh Angviroj gave us a confident and mellow performance, excelling in the second song at the words, ‘O bien-aimee.’ Her voice was skilfully controlled throughout the nine songs, exemplified perfectly in the lines of the seventh song Quand le soir viendra (when the night falls) where there were real complements with the ‘Starry Night’ painting behind the singer.
The relatively unknown and today rarely performed Reynaldo Hahn, a Venezuelan by birth but a man who adopted Paris (or was it the other way round, as he became the darling of the Salons?) provided much of the music for the second half. This music is delightfully tuneful and very easy on the ear. It is not difficult to imagine why he became so popular in his day. Dr Bennett captured those melodies admirably in his piece Portraits of Painters, followed by Ms Angviroj in a charming interpretation of five of Hahn’s settings of poems, where the clear and enchanting melodies shone through.
However, the climax of the evening came towards the end. In a mighty and powerful rendition of Fauré’s Nocturne in D flat, surely one of the great masterpieces of late French romantic-impressionist writing (and on this occasion dedicated to the memory of the late David Crisp), Dr Bennett gave us a memorable and highly polished rendition of this jewel, which enthralled and impressed the audience with its hidden depths and penetrating emotions. Equally, too, the final Barcarolle in F minor was played with great force and evident love for this fine composition. The whole evening was splendid entertainment of a high calibre and, without attempting to wish our lives away, I know that the vast majority of the audience can hardly wait for the next recital in the series on May 23.