Vol. VIII No. 12 - Tuesday
March 24 - March 30, 2009



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

School musical debuts this week

Art and Ideas: Narratives in Burmese and Thai Wall Paintings

Payap University’s Youth Choir to hold Summer Camp

Ancient and Modern – An Honour Recital at Payap University

From Minor to Major – The Clarinet and Klezmer Music

 

School musical debuts this week

Students from the Nakhon Payap International School will be setting the stage alight in “Honk Jr. The Musical”.

Nakhon Payap International School will be performing, ‘Honk Jr.—the Musical’, on March 26 and 27 at their new auditorium on Chiang Mai’s Second Ring Road, beginning at 6.30 p.m. The cast will be drawn from the school’s international students. Tickets for adults will cost 70 baht, with children’s tickets priced at 50 baht, and can be reserved by calling the school on 053-110-680, ext. 101. Please call Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 30 p.m., or contact the PR manager, Nichapat, on 089-999-0858 or 089-433-7133, for further details and the exact location of the auditorium.

 

Art and Ideas: Narratives in Burmese and Thai Wall Paintings

Dr. Alexandra Green
On Sunday March 15, as part of the ‘Art and Ideas’ series at Suriya Art Gallery, Alexandra Green gave a fascinating and illustrated talk on Thai and Burmese wall paintings to an appreciative audience.

Focusing on narrative temple paintings, Burma and Thailand are both Theravada Buddhist countries, and the wall paintings reflect this fact. In Thailand, the side walls of ubosots and wihans are lined with representations of celestial beings, the ten great Jataka stories called the tosachat in Thai, and the life of Gotama Buddha. On the end wall, behind the main Buddha image, is usually an illustration of the traiphum, or three worlds, showing the hells, Mount Meru, Himavanta forest, and the heavens. Opposite this, at the other end of the hall, a depiction of Gotama Buddha defeating Mara, the god of desire, and his army will be found. This organization of aspects enables the monks to use the visual narratives as a teaching tool, and emphasizes the supreme importance of Gotama’s enlightenment.
In Burma, however, the paintings are usually located in buildings that are not meant for congregations but for individual or small group worship. The paintings wind around the temple walls in narrative strips with the ten great Jataka stories placed at the bottom, followed by the life of Gotama Buddha, and culminating at the top of the walls with individual representations of the enlightenment of the twenty-eight previous Buddhas. In this configuration, the paintings surround the central, sculpted Buddha image, and indicate the process by which the Buddha became enlightened.
Thus, at first glance the Thai and Burmese wall paintings appear radically different in organization, but in analyzing the layouts, it is possible to see that both emphasize the enlightenment as the most important moment in Gotama’s life. The difference in the way the paintings are laid out stems largely from the type of building in which they are painted. The use of the Thai ubosot and the wihan for preaching and teaching has led to the narrative paintings being placed between the windows for easy viewing and the enlightenment scene in a position where it is constantly before the monks. The Burmese murals, on the other hand, follow the circumambulatory path around the building and reinforce the message of enlightenment by showing how the Buddha was able to accomplish the goal.
At the end of the talk, there was a lively question and answer session. As always at Suriya, friendship and shared interests ensured that a fine time was had by all!
The next in the series of talks will be held on March 29, with Jacqueline Suter speaking on social commentary in contemporary Burmese art. In this visual presentation entitled ‘Hide and Seek,’ Jacquelyn from ‘Gold Leaf’, will give us a unique glimpse on how artists in Burma today express their interpretations of their society. Rare works not previously seen by the general public will be shown.
For further information on this and future events, contact info and directions to the gallery, please visit the Suriya Gallery blog at pansuriya.wordpress.com.


Payap University’s Youth Choir to hold Summer Camp

Payap University’s Faculty of Music has announced its Payap Youth Choir Summer Camp, which will take place between March 30 and May 9 at the College of Music on the university’s Kaew Narawat Campus.
The aim of the summer camp is to share the Youth Choir’s passion for choral singing and music with young people from Chiang Mai and the neighbouring provinces. The choir itself has a fine reputation for the excellence of its choral singing, and for its love of music. The summer camp will be open to any young singers between the ages of 10 and 22 years, who pass an audition which will be held on March 25 and 26 at the university.
Application forms can be downloaded at http://music. payap.ac.th
For more information, please contact 086-654-4950 or 081-804-3920.


Ancient and Modern – An Honour Recital at Payap University

Jai-Pee
On Saturday March 14, in the Saisuree Hall of Payap University, a large group of students from the music department shared their various artistic talents with a reasonably sized audience. Ancient Thai music was performed at the opening on original instruments of the period by the First Year Pipat Ensemble who gave us a splendid version of the Long-Tailed Crocodile. In traditional costume, they played extremely well together and produced a pulsating rhythm on their various percussion instruments. During the first part, various pianists, some of whom we have already heard giving their own personal recitals, performed music ranging from Bach and Fauré to a modern piece for four hands introduced by the student-composer himself. There was plenty of variety as well, with a good solo guitarist and the dynamic sounds of the Electone, which we heard earlier this month as accompaniment to the saxophone. All students performed well and with an evident love of their instruments and the music. What a shame that some of the performers were distracted at times by members of the audience either moving about or taking photographs, which caused a few moments of hesitation – but the young performers recovered their equilibrium admirably and played with finesse and dexterity, mastering the tricky passages on piano and guitar very well.
The second half opened with a delightful harp ensemble playing the Bernard Andres piece La Ragazza (The Girl), with an excellent sense of proportion. They not only performed well together, but captured the elegance of this rapturous and melodic composition, giving us a brilliantly colourful interpretation. More guitar solo was to follow, this time the sounds of Villa-Lobos played with skill and clarity. This was followed by a second performance of Villa-Lobos’s Poema Singulo, already given in a lecture-recital earlier this month, and making a welcome return as its nostalgic melody echoed through the hall. A five-strong clarinet ensemble came next, performing very well as a group and playing this rather dirge-like modern piece with good intonation and harmony. The grand finale was the up-beat madrigal group, who launched into a foot-tapping selection of modern songs translated into Thai. Their love of the music and their love of performance was evident from the start as they romped through this delightful piece which marked a most fitting conclusion to the evening’s entertainment.


From Minor to Major – The Clarinet and Klezmer Music

Jai-Pee
On Friday March 20 in the Saisuree Hall at Payap University, a small group of enthusiastic music lovers and supporters gathered for a lecture-recital by Tanapong Intajak, a fourth year clarinet student. He is almost 23 years old, a member of, and instructor, in the Prince Regent College Band, as well as a student of the clarinet. His presentation was superb and also dramatic. He sauntered on to the stage after ajarn Ayu’s marvelous choir sang the Royal Anthem, and with the pianist hidden from view, launched into a typical piece of this hauntingly beautiful music. He was then formally introduced in Oprah Winfrey style by Sam, a fellow music student and the compere for the evening. The pair of them then launched into a long dialogue which took us through the history of this unique music, the history and development of the clarinet and some rare but wonderful video footage of well-known musicians playing startlingly vibrant and exciting pieces in Klezmer style. The well-rehearsed and very informative dialogue in Thai between Sam and Tanapong was slick and smooth as well as coming across as a most professional presentation. For those unable to speak Thai, helpful and well-written program notes plus various projections on to the adjacent screen meant that all of the audience was well-educated and well-informed as the evening progressed.

This genre of music originated in the middle-ages in the Eastern European Jewish communities and has since spread to become popular throughout many parts of the world, and in the USA, the music has even fused with jazz. Tanapong highlighted the instruments on which Klezmer is normally performed focusing on the B flat clarinet as the centrepiece. With frequent prompts from Sam, he also explained how the music, composed in different sections, moves from minor key to major, and how the clarinetist has often to play some very demanding upward rising glissandi, which he demonstrated most ably. With several other live illustrations to entice us into hearing more, we were then introduced to his main ‘piece de resistance,’ Sholem-Alekhem, Rov Fiedman by the Hunagarian born Béla Kovács. Born in 1937, Kovacs wrote this excellent song which translated from the Hebrew means Peace Be With You, and it enabled young Tanapong to display the versatility of the clarinet while giving him ample opportunities to display his own considerable skill on the instrument. He performed with confidence, agility and skill giving us the most mellow sounds and sparkling rhythms. Accompanied on the piano by the much-respected ajarn Chan Po, this made a very fitting ending to a refreshing and educative session. Perhaps some people in the audience were wondering where they had heard these sounds before – go to any Gustav Mahler symphony and there you will find many examples of Klezmer music sprinkled throughout his impeccable scoring. Mahler was of Jewish extraction and born in the area known today as Bohemia. As a youngster, he often heard this kind of folk music played by local street musicians and used those childhood memories to make famous this poignant and unique music in his great compositions. And of course, Tanapong has also enabled a different audience here in Chiang Mai to enlarge their knowledge and understanding as well, and in an admirable and very positive manner.



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