Vol. VIII No. 7 - Tuesday
February 17 - February 23, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A musical tribute to David Crisp

Ballet, Jazz and Hip-Hop dancers wow the crowds at Kad

Scorpion Queen breaks her own record

Looking back to Burma - a Shan State journey (Part 2)

Local music alive, well and soon on CD

‘Young Talent Showcase’ invites talented youngsters to audition

A musical tribute to David Crisp

Michael Davies
When Andrew McRady picked up his Great Highland bagpipes and stepped onto the stage in full Scottish regalia to play Highland Cathedral, David Crisp’s friends knew that this was going to be a special evening. As MC Becky Lomax said, “this is not an evening of mourning, but an evening to celebrate David’s life, to offer memories and music to each other and to leave, hopefully, with our spirits renewed and our aching hearts soothed.”

The Spirit House Singers and guests at the memorial concert for David Crisp.
Ong-Ard Kanchaisak continued the evening of memories and music with a moving ‘a cappella’ rendition of Ave Maria, leaving the Spirit House Restaurant as quiet following his performance as it had been stirred by the bagpipe music. His always beautiful tenor voice was in perfect form even though he struggled against tears at several points in the music.
Steve Werner, owner of the restaurant, then went to the microphone to offer his remembrances of meeting David and told how their mutual interest in Renaissance music had led to the founding of the Spirit House Madrigal Singers.
Becky Lomax introduced the Spirit House Singers and described how David taught them, encouraged them and complimented them even when the singers felt the compliments were not deserved. She talked of his love of gardening and his love of his pet cats and ducks. She told how he quietly supported scholarships for children, and made sure that each performance of the group yielded enough money to send a poor child to school.
The group then took the stage for an ‘a cappella’ performance of Come Sleep, directed by Leona Moss. Lucy Coombs recited the original poem, which was written in 1579. Madrigal music for this poem was composed by David in 2008, and Come Sleep was first performed at the Spirit House Singers’ December concert. A complex piece, it was described as ‘four parts that seem to collide with each other from time to time but end in perfect harmony and balance’. It was a lovely introduction to madrigal music, especially for those who had not heard any of David’s original compositions.
David Brown then offered his memories, and his words carried both the humorous and the profound. Reciting excerpts from John Donne’s Meditation XVII, ‘any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee’, he went on to describe the impact that David Crisp had made on his students in Scotland. And then he set the tone for the evening by reciting one of David’s original, humorous ‘medieval’ poems. The laughter reminded the gathering that humour, particularly very wry humour, had played a great part in the life of this expat musician.

John Smith plays some beautiful notes.

Ong-Ard Kanchaisak returned to the stage, accompanied by Leona Moss, and performed Bridge Over Troubled Water, after which John Smith took the microphone and talked about David’s music and his teaching style. He too, interjected humour into the evening. Mark Walder’s solo performance of What a Wonderful World, accompanied by John Smith, was a delight, with the audience humming and smiling during the entire performance. Mark commented that he was putting on a smile for the song, in reference to David Crisp’s insistence that smiling singers would never sing flat notes.
The evening ended with a duet of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot by Mark and Ong-Ard, accompanied by John. The audience was invited to join in the chorus of the song, which was written by an American Indian, a Choctaw freedman. Further information on past performances of the music of David Crisp may be found at http://www. openorchestra.org.uk/past.htm.

 

Ballet, Jazz and Hip-Hop dancers wow the crowds at Kad

Performers in the Cover senior group embrace this new dance craze.

Andy Archer
The first Ballet, Jazz and Hip-Hop dance competition in Chiang Mai took place over the weekend, February 7-8, and was organised by the Ballet Jazz Club under the direction of its President, and head of the Chiang Mai Ballet Academy, Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat. The competition took place on the 3rd floor of the Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex.
The Ballet Jazz Club’s committee members represented 14 dance and music schools in the city; including the Dramatic Arts College, the Thai Ballet Theatre, the Russian Ballet Society’s school, the ballet centre at Dara Academy, the Voice Studio, the Dance Zone, Baan Son Sil, the Performing Arts Club, Chiang Mai Vision Dance, the Rhythm and Motion Institute and the KPN Music School.
Sponsors of the event included PTT Public Co. Ltd., the Government Lottery Office, the Chiang Mai Provisional Administrative Office, the Government Saving Bank, KPN Music School, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Oishii Green Tea, S & P Syndicate Co. Ltd, and the Shangri La Hotel.
The competition, a superb opportunity for talented children in the north of Thailand with a flair for the performing arts to gain experience in stage performance, embraced all styles of dance and was divided into different ages and stages: The 4 categories being the Ballet junior group, aged between 7-11 years; the Ballet senior group, between 12 to18 years; the Jazz and Hip-Hop junior group, 7-11 years; and the Cover senior group, 12 -18 years. Cover is a new teenage dance style popular here in Thailand, combining dance and movement routines from both Japanese and Korean bands.
Ten judges were on hand to make some very difficult decisions, including Anucha Sumaman, the Thai internationally known dancer who danced brilliantly as the Bronze Idol in the Chiang Mai Ballet Academy’s performance of excerpts from La Bayadere given during the academy’s annual show last June. He told the Chiang Mai Mail that he was very impressed by the talent shown during the competition.
Another judge, Sirithorn Srichalakom, from the Department of Western Dance at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, said, “I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with a lot of talented young dancers who showed their love of dance.”
The occasion proved to be an amazingly enjoyable afternoon, both for the competitors and for the huge crowd which filled the third floor area (standing room only - 4 deep!), loving every minute, showing their appreciation and encouraging the performers in the noisiest manner possible - screaming!
From pretty girls of all ages in tutus, through ‘angry young male’ hip-hop dancers, from ballet through jazz to modern dance, the youngsters gave the audience and the judges their all.
Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali graciously allowed the 1st prize to be given in her name in all 4 categories. The winners were all groups - the Ballet junior prize went to ‘L U C K’, with the Ballet senior prize being won by ‘Unseen’. The Jazz and Hip-Hop junior award was won by ‘Relieve your Power’, and the Cover teenage prize was taken by ‘Doll Domination’, a group of ladyboys with an amazing routine.
The event was the first of its kind in Chiang Mai - thanks go to Mom Luang Preeyapun and her committee – and given its huge success, it certainly won’t be the last!

A group of ‘younger generation’ dancers take a break from competition.


Scorpion Queen breaks her own record

Vimolrat Singnikorn
The Scorpion Queen has done it again. Kanchana Ketkaew broke her own Guinness World Record in Pattaya last month, this time by living with 5,000 black scorpions for 33 days.

Kanchana Ketkaew, the Scorpion Queen, holds up her prize money of 100,000 baht for setting a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Kanchana beat her own record set six years ago, but not before having to endure 13 stings from her none-too-friendly insect roommates during the very long month. In 2002 she spent 32 days with 3,400 scorpions. As she stepped at the end of her ordeal she was congratulated by her husband, Boontawee Siangwong, himself known as the Centipede King.
The glass room where she was living with the 5,000 scorpions was 2x4 meters in size. The rules said she could not leave the room for more than 15 minutes every 8 hours.
“I am very proud of my accomplishment in setting this new record. I am also thankful to all the visitors from all over the world who gave me confidence to carry on,” said Kanchana.
“The scorpions were sent from Koh Samui and all of them are extremely poisonous. I was stung 13 times by them but I had to endure the pain. With over 10 years of experience with scorpions, my body had become tolerant to scorpion poison.
“Concentration is the key when living with scorpions so as not to disappoint myself and the fans. Not only am I doing this for myself but also for the popularity of the nation. “If anyone beats this record, I will be here again to take it back,” she vowed.
The Scorpion Queen is also in the Guinness Book of World Records for keeping a scorpion in her mouth for 2 minutes and 3 seconds.


Looking back to Burma - a Shan State journey (Part 2)

David Bennett
In Kengtung the bus is met by a hoard of Chinese made, motorbike based, tuk-tuks.  Our tuk-tuk driver is about 25 stone and introduces himself, “They call me Mr. Fat,” he says.  I ask him, “Why do they call you Mr. Fat.”  He thinks for a few seconds, laughs and says, “Because I really like food and I am very, very fat, was that a good answer?”
Mr. Fat turns out to be quite a wag and speaks very good English.  The Princess Hotel, apparently the only decent hotel in town, is full.  Mr. Fat now drives us out of town along a very rutted, dusty and bumpy dirt road.  We arrive at Herries (Harry’s) guest house.  It’s terrible.  Harry died 2 years back and the place seems to have gone downhill ever since.  Anyway, we check into a room and I make plans for death.
From now on it’s down to Karen.  Karen comes back after a while with the news that there’s another farang here.  She’s called Gen, about 25 years old, and from Vermont.  She confirms that a lot of people get altitude sickness here and that it shouldn’t last long.  On hearing this my headache eases a bit so we go next door to eat.
The ‘restaurant’ is a dusty shack.  It’s now getting quite cold, it’s dark (no street lights), it’s dusty, it smells of paraffin and charcoal fires and above us is a single white humming florescent light.  The dinner is rubbish and my headache is coming back.  This is Hell.
After pacing up and down for an hour with hot pads on the back of my neck, the two sleeping pills finally kick in and I’m gone.  Karen tells me later how she had decided to have the body cremated in Kengtung.  I think that was probably a wise decision.
Next morning - and all is well.  Karen cancels the cremation plans and we go for breakfast.  Cold fried dough covered in sweet sauce and Nescafe pre-mixed with sugar followed by half a packet of broken biscuits.  Forget it.  The Princess Hotel has promised us a room for tonight and so after signing a sheaf of official documents we grab a tuk-tuk into town.
The Princess is indeed the best hotel in town - but that ain’t saying much.  Having said that, the staff are lovely and they have masses of back issues of the New light of Myanmar, and the Myanmar Times.  We also have 24-hour electricity, with the aid of a huge generator out front.
We now meet up with 2 more farangs: Mars, a Dutch women living in Perth, and her Australian boyfriend, Ewan.  We go off together to check out other hotels and the local market.  In the market we get super hot bowls of fresh noodles with pork and garlic and greens.  We all feel very much better now.
Tuesday December 5 - We are hearing very bad things about Mong La, our next destination.  Apparently, the Burmese have shut all the Chinese casinos, which in turn means the few crappy hotels that do exist have also tended to close down.  The Princess can only let us stay two days.  We decide to cancel the trip to Mong La and just have a good look round Kengtung.
The tea shops here are very good.  I manage to take about 100 corny, cute photographs.  Perfect to send to this photographic agency I’m trying to get in with.  No big shops in town, but we do find one treasure - A locked ‘market store’.  After getting a shutter open, we find it’s an army shop.  It’s full of dusty uniforms, camp beds, Nescafe, old packets of biscuits, dried up Chinese ball point pens and note books with brown crispy pages.  A find indeed!
In the evening, the 5 musketeers meet up at the Au Jang restaurant for a terrible meal of cold egg curry, stale rice, leaf soup and cabbage.  Later on we all go to a Burmese tea shop for lots of silly nonsense chat.  I don’t know if we were entertaining the Burmese or they were entertaining us but it was a good evening.
Wednesday December 6 - Spent the day taking lots more photographs.  Also checked out the Naung Tung, a small lake in the centre of town.  The lake must be about 20 acres - so not so small and amazingly clean and full of fish.  Obviously the best place in town to live.  Strangely, no hotels or restaurants by the lake, but we did find a rather creepy deserted ballroom.
In the evening we meet up with the other 3 farangs and go to the Lauo Tien Lu, billed by Lonely Planet as the most reliable Chinese restaurant in town.  The restaurant is composed of a row of tables down one side of a commercial garage.  Ambiance to die for!  The food was so-so (if you’re desperate, that is).  We cannot stay another night in the Princess and we’ve been unable to find another hotel that is bearable so we have decided to leave tomorrow morning.  The bus is scheduled to go at 9 a.m.
Thursday December 7 - At 7 a.m. we get a call from the front desk.  What did he say? - something about a bus at 8 o’clock?  Karen goes down to check.  Sure enough, the time has been changed - the bus leaves at 8 a.m.  We spend too much time checking out because the room has to be paid for in American dollars, the bus ticket in Burmese Kyat and the laundry in Thai baht.  We also have to sign a lot of stuff and they have to update our report and stamp it.  What a performance.
We just get to the bus station (for ‘bus station’, read dusty dirt slope on the edge of town) in time.  The bus journey going back to Tachilek is even better than the one coming (no headaches?).  A toilet stop, a bowl of noodles stop and a stop at the bridge where we all get off and walk across - and then the somewhat lighter bus drives over very slowly.  If anyone writes a book “The best bus journeys of the world” this one should be in it.
Back in Tachilek we go in search of a pair of Burmese slippers for Billy.  Billy is the Burmese manager of the best Italian restaurant in Chiang Mai.  He wrote down in Burmese script exactly what he wanted us to buy.  Why do we end up in a music shop being asked to buy a guitar?  One of the street hawkers kindly leads us round the market from shop to shop and eventually we find the slippers.  The name of the brand is Guitar.
So, it’s back across the bridge - and here’s our charming Burmese lady immigration officer reaching for our passports and the bowl of oranges.  Over to the Thai side and out into Mai Sai.  We make straight for the Payaporn Hotel (the new one we looked at last week).  It’s fabulous.  Beautiful room with good telly, king size bed, two bedside lights, wonderful shower room etc etc.  Don’t you just know you’re back in Thailand!
We spend the rest of the day wandering around Mai Sai before buying a bottle of Scotch (Benmores), to go with our room service meal.  The dinner for two is superb and costs about 200 baht.
Friday December 8 - Next morning we have the buffet breakfast, once again superb.  Off we go now for the bus back to Chiang Mai.  The end of a very interesting journey.


Local music alive, well and soon on CD

Michael Davies
A definitely ‘don’t- miss’ event will take place on Saturday, March 7 at ArtSpace on 7 to celebrate the anticipated CD release of ‘Geography of Hungry Ghosts’ by singer/songwriters Matthew Whiston and Bradley Dean Whyte.

See singer/songwriter duo Matthew Whiston and Bradley Dean Whyte perform live at ArtSpace on 7.

Whiston, a native of Halifax, and Whyte, from New York City, were previously band-mates in one of Chiang Mai’s favourite cover bands, ‘The Alchemy Pops’, and have since gone on to record their original music - delicately arranged Americana-influenced pop music, full of thoughtful lyrics, beautiful melodies and harmonies. The duo’s music is inspired by Iron and Wine, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, the Beatles, Ani DiFranco, Feist and others.
The doors open at 7:30 at the always hip and welcoming Brooklyn-cafe stylin’ ArtSpace on 7 to be found at 19/6 Sirimongkalajahn, Soi 7. Go out and watch Whiston and Whyte perform their album live with accompanying friends! This is a free event. Drinks and CD’s will be available in the lounge. For more information email artspacecm @gmail.com.


‘Young Talent Showcase’ invites talented youngsters to audition

Elena Edwards
Further to the announcement in last week’s Chiang Mai Mail about the upcoming International Dance Festival, due to show in Chiang Mai from March 22 to 25, we would now like to invite young performance artistes to apply for auditions to take part in a special Chiang Mai Young Talent Showcase. 30 young artistes, selected by a specially formed committee, will be chosen to perform in 5 minute slots at a public performance which will take place at the Three Kings Monument on March 22 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Young Talent Showcase has been established to nurture and inspire young local talent by giving an opportunity for performance in a professional environment and for networking with professional artistes.
The committee will be looking for young people (over the age of 12) whether amateur or professional and with or without formal training, in all branches, varieties and styles of the performing arts, both Thai and international. The most important factor the committee will be looking for is the energy, stage presence, projection and personality which makes a true ‘performer.’ Soloists, duos, dancers, singers, bands, musicians, pianists, instrumentalists – the selection committee is looking forward to hearing from all, and more. Artistes themselves, or any organisation or school concerned with training or promotion which wishes to put forward a young, talented individual, may apply – preferably with a brief performance VDO.
Please, in the first instance, email with full details to Linda Galloway on llgalloway @gmail.com. Further details will be given and applicants will be advised as to the times, dates and venues of auditions as soon as a schedule is arranged.
The organisers of the International Dance Festival, the Friends-of-the-Arts Foundation incorporates universal values which transcend all boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, race or religion. The foundation is a self-supporting non-profit entity formed with the aim of charitably nurturing and exciting interest in the performing arts amongst talented youngsters throughout the Kingdom. Part of the proceeds from Friends-of-the-Arts’ annual events are donated to charitable organizations who work towards the well-being of children, families and communities in the Kingdom. Throughout the year the foundation stages performances to raise funds and encourages young talent to perform in a professional environment, using state of the art sound, lighting and stage props.



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