A concert with a
difference – Japanese Biwa
and Koto music
Musically inclined residents of Chiang Mai who are interested in
things Japanese, or indeed in things unusual, should make the effort to be
at CMU’s Faculty of Fine Arts Art Museum Theatre on Nimmanhaeminda Road at 2
p.m. Saturday February 9. A very special concert including Jiuta music,
traditional to Western Japan, will be given by Nakai Tomoya, playing the 25
and 13 string kotos, and Tomoko Nagasu, who will provide the vocals, and
play the biwa and shakuhachi.
These traditional instruments have been specific to Japan for hundreds of
years, with regional variations relevant to the style of music and the
arrangements, with their sounds and tonalities seeming very unfamiliar to
Western ears. However, suspending the familiarity of Western musical style
and just listening to the purity of the tones shining through the unfamiliar
sounds can be a very rewarding experience!
The two musicians have both studied with famous Japanese teachers. Nagasu
studied the shakuhachi with ‘living national treasures,’ Goro Yamaguchi and
Ryumei Matsuyama. Both have wide experience of concert appearances both in
Japan and internationally. Tomoya is also a composer, plays the shamisen,
has featured in magazines, made recordings and won awards. A specific
project of his is the interpretation on the 25 string koto of music composed
for Noh plays, an ancient form of Japanese drama.
For further information, please contact 053-203-367, ext. 140, or
Ending to beginning
Final year art students at Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Fine
Arts will hold their Art Thesis Exhibition at CMU’s Art Centre from March
6-30, with the official opening being held at 6 p.m. on the first day. The
exhibition gives final year students the chance to exhibit their work in the
‘real world,’ and provides a stepping stone to the next stage in their
artistic lives, whether working, studying for a higher degree or continuing
to develop their own creativity in other diverse ways. This is, indeed, an
‘Ending to Beginning.’
For further information, please visit www.cmumuseum.org.
On Tuesday February 17, the Symphonic Band of Silpaporn
University on tour filled the stage of the Luce Chapel at Payap University
for a concert of music that was wide-ranging and interesting in its
structure. Sadly, the acoustics of this chapel were entirely wrong for this
kind of music – which for much of the time was loud, very loud – and the
sounds were often oppressive. There was reverberation, echo and in some of
the slower and quieter passages, a muffled effect. Even with doors and
windows open, the sound quality was poor, despite the very good playing of
the band. This was determined by the various solo spots that were wisely
included in the program – so that in Bugler’s Holiday by Leroy
Anderson, for example, the three young trumpeters came across very clearly
and they gave us a flawless performance. Also when the solo violinist
performed, using electric amplification so he could be heard above the
massed brass and woodwind, we were treated to a wonderfully lyrical piece of
Thai music that soared beautifully on high and was not tossed and distorted
by the building. But the real treat in the first half was the same
violinist, leader of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, playing the famous
Czardas, the well-known Hungarian dance, delivered fervently with great
polish and finesse.
The Symphonic Band from Silpaporn University was joined in the second half
by the Chiang Mai Youth Philharmonic Band and Symphony Orchestra, the stage
overflowing with young musicians, well over one hundred performers, and now
outnumbering the audience! Despite their fine playing together, the poor
acoustics combined with the high volume of sound resulted in a blurred and
overwhelming volume of noise that did neither the composers nor the
performers the justice they deserved. This type of very large performance is
suited only to the best symphony halls or outdoors, not to the relatively
confined space in which we were sitting. Once again, small ensembles or
individual soloists came across very well and they showed great talent and
musicianship. But only in the wonderful performance of a piece by Wagner did
the combined orchestras come into their own. The Silpaporn conductor led the
band through a powerful, dramatic and magnificent arrangement of Elsa’s
Procession from Richard Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin. The layers of
sound were wonderfully constructed from the very opening woodwind chords as
the lyrical and beautiful melody began; then, joined by some of the brass to
create the unique ‘Wagner tuba’ sound, the music grew in stature and swelled
through a carefully controlled and masterfully balanced crescendo, which
rose to great heights as this wonderful piece reached its climax. And the
massed musicians played it with stunning reverence to Wagner, the great
master of the woodwind and brass.
The concert for me raises an important issue. We, the audience, and they,
the performers, want the best. We want to hear the music as it was intended.
We want these talented young people to have the appropriate kind of venue in
which they can both excel and triumph – that is the least they deserve after
all their hard work and dedication. Is it not time, therefore, for the
Universities, the Civic Authorities, Government and Sponsors to work
together to provide the people and musicians of Chiang Mai and their guests
a properly and acoustically designed concert hall? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Huge Rock Metal fundraising concert to benefit Mae Sot school
Just for a change, this concert will be a treat for those who can’t
live without the sounds of Rock Metal bands en masse! The concert will be
held at the Sky Hall in Kad Suan Kaew, on March 14, beginning at 12 midday
and going on until 11 p.m. at night! 10 guest bands will travel from Bangkok
for the event, and one, Army of Three, from as far away from Malaysia. The
Bangkok bands include Carried the Weight, Summer Suicide, Born From Pain,
Take it Back, Strike to Die, SinKids, 8th Floor, InVien and Oblivious. Local
bands, of course, won’t be left out, with no less than 15 expected,
including Human Fly, Solidcore, Reckless Madness, Anti Zero, Inferno, Black
Armour Warriors and Asylum.
This concert is not just a celebration of very loud music and a great deal
of fun for all, it’s a fundraiser for the Rung Arun School in Mae Sot, Tak
province. Following the concert, on March 18 the organisers, including the
owners of the recently reviewed really great Khumin restaurant in Soi 5 off
Nimmanhaeminda Road, and friends will travel with Bun Dee Rider (the Bog
Bikers’ Gang) to the school to present a donation, and join with the
students in various activities.
The stuff of which dreams are made…
On the afternoon of February 20, around 250 students at Prem
Tinsulanonda International School in Mae Rim, along with some staff, parents
and visitors, were given a rare opportunity to hear a rarely performed piece
of music by the great Czech composer, Antonín DvoYák. A quintet of string
players, all members of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, played DvoYák’s
first published composition – his Opus 1 string quintet, written when the
composer was still a student and long before he became the giant of the
musical scene that lay in wait for him.
The quintet, two violins, cello and two violas, tackled this wonderfully
lyrical work with polish and finesse. More than once I had to remember where
I was, sitting in the auditorium of Prem School rather than London’s Wigmore
Hall or New York’s Carnegie Hall, such was the beauty of their playing. The
two outer movements of this three movement piece were full of exciting
rhythms and harmonies, and positively burst with rich textures and energy.
Very Brahmsian in character, the elegance of the music was expertly handled
by all the players who performed tremendously well together.
But the highlight was the astonishing second movement. This was just
magnificent and played with deep feeling and great sensitivity. Here the
young DvoYák penned a hymn-like theme of deep beauty, first on the viola,
then on the lead violin as the tune soared and swept its way ever upwards
with the clarity and beauty of a crystal clear stream reflecting the
sunlight – surely nothing less than the things of which dreams are made. And
throughout the whole work came hints of the greatness that was to eventually
ensure DvoYák’s place in the musical halls of fame. Those exciting little
rhythms that he expressed so fervently, interweaving them with hints of folk
tunes that he had learnt as a child; the pressing insistence of the main
themes, interestingly tossed and thrown in the development section to emerge
with splendour in the recapitulation. And the quintet captured all this
elegantly and gave us all a remarkably pure and sparkling performance
throughout that did more than justice to this little gem in the musical
‘…beyond the distant stars’
– a guitar and voice recital
by Sakdipon Mitprayoon
Another fascinating event in the rich and varied student
performance calendar was held at the Saisuree Hall of Payap University on
Friday February 13. Waving aside the superstitions surrounding the date, a
smart, presentable and entertaining young Sakdipon Mitprayoon entered the
stage and delighted the seventy-strong audience with a selection of
Latin-American guitar pieces by Paraguayan composer Agustín Barrios Mangoré,
Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos and Cuban Leo Brouwer. Sakdipon played the five
pieces with a quite astonishing understanding of the complex rhythms and
varied syncopations that this genre of music demands. In Don Perez by
Mangoré, the lovely melody was played with precision and delicate fingering.
In the Suite Populaire by Villa-Lobos, Sakdipon played the Choro,
emanating from street music in Rio de Janiero, with great skill, capturing
the sultry tones well and giving us a splendid interpretation of the more
lively sections that sounded not too unlike the famous Harry Lyme
Theme from the film The Third Man. There was a lightness of
touch, a real feel for the mood of this music and a great deal of attention
paid to the poignant phrases, especially in La Harpe du Guerrier by
Brouwer, that showed this young man to be full of promise for the future as
a classical guitarist.
In the second half, Sakdipon revealed another of his interesting talents –
that of a singer with a great stage presence. His tenor voice, full of
subtle tones and nuances, was packed with expression as he tackled old
favourites by Cole Porter and Gershwin. Joined by soprano Jutaporn Chaiin,
the pair gave us a wonderful rendition of David Foster’s marvelously
evocative and powerful song, The Prayer. But Sakdipon
excelled in the Richard Marx number, To Where You Are in the rising
and powerful lines ‘fly me up to where you are beyond the distant stars’
sung with passion, feeling and great emotion. Ajaan Rangsan Poonsub was an
excellent accompanist on the piano as he gently supported the singers in
this splendid second half. But it was so short and I am sure, judging by the
very enthusiastic reception that Sakdipon got, that the audience would have
liked a lot more, not just the one encore that we received. This talented
and personable young man has the potential to be a great all-round
entertainer and we look forward to hearing from him again.
Alliance Française de Chiangmai
March 2009 film programme
Friday, March 6th, 8 p.m.
Le Jour se Leve (1939)
by Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert with Jean Gabin • Arletty
Jacqueline Laurent • Bernard Blier • B&W • 89 mn • Eng. s.t.
Synopsis: Francois, a sympathetic factory worker, kills Valentin with a
gun. He locks himself in his furnished room, remembering how he was led to
murder. He met once Francoise, a young florist, and they fell in love. But
Francoise was got around by Valentin, a dog trainer, a Machiavellian guy.
Friday, March 13th, 8 p.m.
Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie (1972)
by Luis Buńuel with Stéphane Audran • Jean-Pierre Cassel
Bulle Ogier • Michel Piccoli • Delphine Seyrig • 100mn • Eng. s.t.
Synopsis: In typical Buńuel fashion, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
surrealistically skewers the conventions of society. The film depicts a
series of profoundly frustrating dinner parties. The well-to-do guests
gather for especially delectable dinners, but their host does not appear.
Every time they are about to begin eating, some bizarre event prevents
them. Adding to their tantalization is the dream state many of them enter,
with each dream exploring some deeply symbolic or perverse aspect of their
lives. Many of the dreams are also of interrupted dinners.
Friday, March 20th, 8 p.m.
Pierrot le Fou (1965)
by Jean-Luc Godard with Jean-Paul Belmondo • Anna Karina • Dirk Sanders •
Raymond Devos • 110mn • Eng. s.t.
Synopsis: Ferdinand meets an old love, Marianne, but, at her place, they
discover a cumbersome corpse. They then decide to flee from the killers
through France to an island where they might be safe. One of Jean-Paul
Belmondo’s best roles in this “Nouvelle Vague” film.
Friday, March 27th, 8.p.m.
13 m˛ (2007)
by Barthélémy Grossmann with Barthélémy Grossmann • Youssef Hajdi
Thierry Lhermitte • Lucien Jean-Baptiste • 84 mn • Eng. s.t.
Synopsis: Jose is looking for a way out of his small time banlieue
deals. When he overhears a conversation between his girlfriend and his
step-brother, he might just have found a very lucrative way. Together with
his two best friends, he decides to attack an armoured vehicle, full of
cash. But everything goes wrong and they’re forced into hiding in a 13
square meter bunker. There, they will have to test their friendship, their
motivations, as every move outside triggers even more paranoia.
Japanese film showings to cement friendship with northern Thailand
As part of a planned cultural exchange during 2009 between Japan and
the Mekong River Basin countries, the Japanese Consulate in Chiang Mai, the
Japan-Bangkok Foundation, and the Thai-Japanese Relations Centre at Payap
University are organising a series of Japanese film shows in Northern
Thailand. The varied selection of films will be shown in Mae Hong Son during
2 events, the first in Khun Yuam on February 28 and the second in Mae Hong
Son on March 1. All films will be sub-titled in Thai and admission will be
The Japanese Consulate in Chiang Mai is providing 9 films; The Haunted
School, No Do Mi Yang, The Amateur Singing Contest, The Crying Wind, What
the Snow Brings, The Swimming Turtle, Beat Kids, the Glass Rabbit and
Yuniko, the last two being cartoon films. As a special treat, After the
Rains, a Samurai-style film featuring martial arts displays, will also be
Sakchai Suphasa, the mayor of the Khun Yuam municipality in Mae Hong Son,
explained that Japan has a policy of promoting its culture in Mekong River
Basin countries, including Thailand, and also reminded listeners that,
during World War 2, the Imperial Japanese Army present in Mae Hong Son
province enjoyed good relations with the local villagers, who offered
whatever help was needed to the wounded and sick soldiers who were
retreating en masse from their failed campaign against the British in Burma.
About 7000 soldiers were in Khun Yuam district at the peak of the retreat –
and as a result, there were many inter-marriages with local girls.