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A concert with a difference – Japanese Biwa and Koto music

Ending to beginning

Fortissimo

Huge Rock Metal fundraising concert to benefit Mae Sot school

The stuff of which dreams are made…

‘…beyond the distant stars’ – a guitar and voice recital by Sakdipon Mitprayoon

Alliance Française de Chiangmai

Japanese film showings to cement friendship with northern Thailand

 

A concert with a difference – Japanese Biwa and Koto music

Elena Edwards
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 053-943-284.

 

Ending to beginning

Elena Edwards
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.


Fortissimo

Jai-Pee
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

Elena Edwards
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…

Jai-Pee
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 repertoire.


‘…beyond the distant stars’ – a guitar and voice recital by Sakdipon Mitprayoon

Jai-Pee
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

CMM reporters
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 free.
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 shown.
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.