Stars and Gems – Benefit Concert for Vieng Ping Children’s Home
On April 8th at the AUA Auditorium, a group of guitarists, a
violinist, dancers and singers gathered to provide an evening of music for
the benefit of the Vieng Ping Children’s Home in Mae Rim. This home
accommodates children up to six years old and girls aged between seven and
eighteen, and is run under the auspices of the Department of Social
Development and Welfare, caring for HIV positive children and youngsters who
have been orphaned by the deaths of AIDs- infected parents. It was good to
see the hall two thirds full, with a mainly Thai audience and a scattering
Generally, the music was interesting and lively, if a little repetitive,
often the case as few composers write for the guitar, let alone the
combination of guitar and violin. The music was chosen and performed by
teachers and students, with some stars and gems in the repertoire. One
student from Mahidol University, a real star, delighted us with a sparkling
performance of Barrios Mangore’s El Ultimo Tremelo. What a magical
gem this piece of music was and how well the young performer captured its
spirit and intention. Rippling tremolos painted a rich harmonic background
to a wistfully delightful melody that was both haunting and soul-searching.
One of the teachers played music arranged for guitar by Bach, as well as a
piece by Rodrigo, with surety and determination, tackling the tricky
fingering with dexterity. His colleague joined him on the violin for pieces
by Vivaldi and Paganini, as well as closing with a set of variations for
violin and guitar by Giuliani. The first half came to an enchanting finale
with guitar duet, percussion and traditional dancers, whose costumes and
graceful movements made for an elegant conclusion.
In the second half, several students took to the stage to perform a range of
pieces for guitar duet with significant skill, technical mastery and
enjoyment. The anonymously composed Romanza in D was another gem, played
with love and affection by the two star performers. Two pieces by Carulli
followed, the second a Rondo in G, which so captivated the audience that
they began applauding in the middle of the piece after the A-B-A not
realizing that the full Rondo form is A-B-A-C-A! Such things often occur in
the great opera houses and concert halls—the performers were in no way put
off their stride as they smiled and played on! Three songs were included
towards the end of the concert, well sung and interpreted. All in all, with
almost two full hours of music, this was exceptionally good value for money
and all in a very worthwhile cause.
For more information on Vieng Ping Children’s Home, please visit the website
A fascinating combination of new and old…’Monsters in Hand’
Every home should have one…a selection of glazed
ceramic ‘Monsters’ on show at Pongnoi Art Space
Celadon ceramics have been produced in the north of Thailand for
hundreds of years, and are now one of the kingdom’s most popular exports.
Traditionally, the firing of the hand-crafted shapes took place in
wood-fired ovens, used all over Asia since ancient times. Replaced during
the last few decades by electric ovens, examples of the original ovens may
still be seen at several of the ceramic factories in the Chiang Mai area.
The difficulties of controlling firing temperatures in wood- burning ovens
gave rise to attractive variations in the glazes if the finished products;
however, the environmental problems caused by a large number of wood-burning
ovens in constant production need no explanation!
Although traditional patterns and styles are still popular, innovation
invariably takes place in all art forms, including ceramics. A Thai- born
Australian potter, Vipoo Srivilasa, has inspired a new style of decorative
ceramic manufacture at one of Chiang Mai’s celadon factories where he is now
artist-in-residence, Thai Celadon Ceramics, founded in 1960. An exhibition,
inspired by Vipoo and showing ceramics produced by workers at the factory
following his recent 3-week training workshop, was held on April 4,
featuring not traditional plates, cups and vases….but Monsters! Vipoo’s
workshop encouraged potters at the factory to think for themselves, to
create from their feelings and to combine tradition with innovation in
design and subject matter.
But, why monsters? According to Vipoo, nobody has any idea or expectations
about monsters, therefore, monsters can be anything an artist wishes! The
monsters in the exhibition are not ugly or devilish, they are funny, they
smile, they are totally different from anything seen before, because they
are the products of imagination. They show the creativity of the potters,
they show their escape from the normality of 40 years’ production of the
same designs, week after week. For the first time in their lives, the
ceramic artists have been asked to do something new, filling their creations
with their own knowledge, ideas and feelings. ‘Our monsters laugh...because
they’re happy to be there, to be born!’ says Vipoo.
Over 100 guests attended the opening of the exhibition, entitled, ‘Monsters
by Hands’, held at the Pongnoi Art Space Gallery, and presided over by Chao
Dr. Duanduang na Chiengmai, president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Culture.
Many of the pieces in the exhibition were immediately purchased!. A very
unusual piece represented an elephant, portrayed as very sick and unhappy.
Vipoo explained the sculpture represented Thailand—the elephant is the
traditional symbol of the kingdom— its sad state is representative of
political and other problems facing the country at present. Another ceramic
elephant, designed by Vipoo’s associate, Khun Kittiporn, an artist who
normally works on paper, is shown with holes all over its body. Vipoo
explained that this sculpture, although similar in inspiration, also shows
that change is possible.
With the exhibition, Vipoo has fulfilled his dream in giving inspiration and
direction to ceramic artists at Thai Celadon Ceramics, encouraging them to
create new concepts and designs formed from a traditional material with
traditional skills—a highly successful combination of new and old.
The exhibition will run until April 26, (closed during Songkran), at Pongnoi
Art Space, Moo5, Thumbol Suthep. Open Tuesday –Friday 1-6 p.m., Sat/Sun 11-6
The Spirit of Thailand
An historic event took place in the Saisuree Hall on April 4th with
Payap University’s staging of the first evening of Thai Traditional Music in
Chiang Mai. All the music was played on traditional instruments by
performers who had a clear love of both their instruments and the music
itself. Dressed appropriately in traditional costumes, the players gave
performances on eight solo instruments with backing from a range of
percussionists playing drums and Indian cymbals. And what a delightful and
inspiring session it was – sounds that were full of flavour and colour,
exciting rhythms, masterful performances in a warm and relaxing atmosphere –
who could ask for anything more? Outside the hall, the entrance area was
tastefully decorated with candles, flowers and ornaments with the smell of
jasmine incense pervading the waiting area. Inside, two comperes gave us a
brief and very helpful introduction in Thai and English to each piece of
music, the composer and the performers. All the musicians came from Chiang
Mai and were extremely proficient and accomplished. Opening on the
Saw-Sam-Sai, a three-stringed instrument from the Ayutthaya period, the
audience was treated to a composition by King Rama II, often performed in
Thai high society and at court. The sounds, akin to the sound of the
violin’s lower register, took us on a journey back in time to an era when
the river was the focus of Thai society with its banks full of activity and
the water full of small boats. The concert continued with wonderful
performances on the Saw-Daeng, a two-stringed instrument with a
viola-like sound, the Saw-U, with its deeper, richer cello-like
sounds from its two strings and finally to the rich harmonies on the
Ja-Khae, which resembled the hurdy-gurdy in shape, played skillfully
with two hands - the left playing the melody using a short wooden stick to
control the vibrations of the flat strings while the right hand darted over
the strings in a manner similar to fingering on the guitar.
The second half of this extraordinary evening was full of contrast – gone
were the strings to be replaced by firstly the Pee-Nai, a woodwind
instrument with a hollow reedy sound played with great enthusiasm, control
and poise in a difficult piece by a young student. Two more young people
performed their interesting and fast moving pieces on the Ranat-Ek
and Ranat-Thum, both types of xylophone, with concentration and
skill. Another contrast was the music of the circular Gong-Wong-Yai,
producing glockenspiel- like sounds, giving eerie floating tones that echoed
through the hall. Following the final piece, all the players and many of
their accompanists joined forces on stage for a tremendous encore finale –
thirteen players making superb music full of radiant harmonies as these
beautiful instruments combined in the sweet melodies which brought to life a
Siam of the past in all its colour and glory. This was a refreshing and
informative experience—the audience, largely Thai with just a handful of
foreigners, were most impressed and shouted vociferously for more! How good
it is to learn and know that this wonderful heritage of sound and colour is
safe in the hands of these dedicated musicians, many of them young, who
delighted, impressed and refreshed us with their playing. Full marks to
Payap for organizing such an event!
Chiang Mai Young Performers’ Showcase at AUA.
On the evening of April 25 at 7.30 p.m., the studio theatre at AUA
will be the venue for a very special concert given by 13 young and very
talented pianists and string players from the Santi Music School. All were
individually chosen and scheduled to perform at a Young Performers’ showcase
during the recent dance festival; however, organisational problems forced
the cancellation of their recital.
The recital will begin with Dome, 23, who will play the opening movement of
a Beethoven piano sonata, followed by Mamplaw, 12, the youngest performer,
who will play a Bach Gavotte in D major for violin. Next, we will hear Gift,
aged 16, who will play Chopin’s Etude No 3 in E major, Opus 10, a hauntingly
beautiful composition, followed by Sai, aged 17, playing Chopin’s Etude Opus
25 No.1, also known as the Shepherd’s Song.
Two more of Chopin’s compositions will follow, a Waltz in C sharp minor Opus
64 no. 2, played by Nok, 16, and another, very melancholy, waltz, this time
in B minor, played by Amy, 15. Following will be an etude by Franz List, one
of many he wrote for the piano, played on this occasion by Wan, aged 15. A
little-known piece by Pieczonka, a Tarantella, will be performed by one of
the youngest pianists, Pon, aged 13, followed by Nat, 17, playing the
opening movement of a Mozart piano sonata. An orchestral dance, again by
Mozart, arranged for violin by Arthur Moffat, will be performed by Ken, aged
14, followed by Get, 20, who will play one of Mendelssohn’s ‘Songs without
Words’, the Scherzo in E minor.
An interesting piece will follow, played by Oak, aged 13, —a modern Chinese
classical composition by Jay Chou, ‘The Time Travel Theme from Secret’ The
final piece of the evening is an arrangement of a Schubert March Militaire,
originally written as a piano duet, arranged here in D major for 3 violins
and 2 cellos.
A varied and interesting programme, performed by dedicated youngsters to
whom music is a way of life! The suggested minimum donation of 100 baht per
guest will be given in full to a local, underfunded school, in order to buy
musical instruments. Your generosity, as well as your presence at this
specially rearranged concert, will be much appreciated.
Move over Hong Kong,
Chiang Mai’s in production
The recent announcement by Creative Kingdom of its 8 billion baht
film studio project, set on 30 rai of land in San Kamphaeng district, seems
to have spurred an interest in Thailand as a destination for movie moguls.
According to the company’s CEO, Eduardo Robles, Chiang Mai is the perfect
location due to its lower costs, its good facilities, its international
airport and its skilled workers. In addition, Eduardo envisages Thailand as
a great location for the production of films such as the highly successful
The project, involving 6 studios, is due for completion in 2014, and is
hoping to attract foreign film production companies, perhaps helping to
develop the industry in Chiang Mai as the next ‘Hollywood Asia’ by
attracting film-makers from more expensive locations such as Hong Kong.
In addition to the Chiang Mai project, another larger studio and production
complex is under construction on 2000 rai of land in Phetchaburi province.
Twentieth June Entertainment’s CEO, Toranong Srichua, gives the same reasons
for his company’s investment in Thailand, and goes further, explaining that,
“Thailand could be one of the best film-production locations in the world
for several reasons. It has both seas and mountains, giving good
backgrounds for shooting, plus many skilled employees in the film industry
who work at lower wages than in the US and other countries. Apart from
Hollywood and Bollywood, I have a strong belief Thailand could be a major
destination for film-makers in three or four years. If the country can
achieve this target, we can also generate revenue from the tourism industry,
as the beauty of our locations will be broadcast to people worldwide.”
Twentieth June Entertainment’s complex, due to open next year, is expected
to be the largest in the world, with local and international production
contracts reported to be under negotiation.
The Thai Board of Investment’s senior executive investment adviser, Hirunya
Suchinai , noted that Thailand has strengths in highly skilled human
resources which help to attract investment from global movie production
companies, giving potential to generate income and boost the employment
rate, explaining that, “Although the investment in equipment and facilities
in this industry is not as high as in others, it can create income and jobs
for other related industries, such as tourism, which are the real benefits
Hirunya also pointed out that, since the year 2000, her office has operated
a policy of granting tax incentives to the film industry.