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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai Music Teachers Association - and a great show

Visakha Bucha Day - a sacred Buddhist festival

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony - an ancient Brahman rite still performed today

Community spirit as it should be – the Young People’s Musical Showcase

 

Chiang Mai Music Teachers Association - and a great show

The members of the association (pictured left to right): Pat (NIS),
Rhondda (PREM), Gene (GIS), Leona (APIS), Syd (APIS), Carolyn (List), Quinten (PREM), Ruthanne (CMIS) and the newest member, Kevin (NIS).

Syd Moss
The newly-formed Chiang Mai Music Teachers’ Association is a vibrant group of people who teach music and drama at the best International schools in Chiang Mai, and was founded in February by Syd Moss, student counsellor and band teacher at the American Pacific International School.
The group meets every last Friday of the month at the UN Irish Pub in downtown Chiang Mai around 7 p.m., for a fun and extremely informative brainstorming session for the benefit of students and teachers alike
Syd’s dream was to bring together this group of wonderful people, in the same manner as other school departments meet, to exchange ideas, share best practices, discuss new trends and explore the vast possibilities, opportunities and scope of music education in schools. The resulting group of professionals now meets regularly, collectively bringing with them more than a century of experience in teaching music; sharing experiences openly and supporting each other whenever, wherever and however they can. A truly marvellous and special group of people!
The format of the meetings (which usually start on time …) begins with members catching up and sharing recent happenings between each other and the whole group over a relaxed dinner. Once dinner is over, the group begins discussing current and future projects, while building on the experiences of the past. This format has proven to be invaluable for the teachers as they gain insight into each other’s projects and readily contribute ideas, suggestions and materials to help make these same projects even more exciting and successful.
This group of experts have pooled all their enthusiasms and resources into preparing for the launch of the very first Chiang Mai Regional IDOL & BATTLE of the BANDS Musical Talent Competition 2009. Their dedication and commitment guarantees a high quality performance by students from the Elementary, Middle and High School divisions. The teachers have worked so hard with their highly talented students over the last semester to make this an event Chiang Mai will always remember.
Please come and support the group’s first collective performance on Saturday, May 16. The ‘double feature’ event will be held at the American Pacific International School’s Auditorium starting at 4 p.m. sharp. The doors open at 3:30 p.m. - we urge you to be there early to grab the better seats as a full house is expected!
As well as the Talent Contests, a raffle with prizes provided by Dukes Restaurant, Rimping Supermarkets, the Royal India Restaurant, and Miguel’s Cafe will ensure a fun evening …negotiations with more possible prize donors are continuing. Come One, Come All, and support these amazingly talented kids, and the Music Teachers Association of Chiang Mai.
This fun group is always looking for new members - if you are attached to a school’s music department (Thai, private or international) please feel free to contact Syd Moss on 084-665-0562 or email: [email protected] for further details. See you on the 16th!

 

Visakha Bucha Day - a sacred Buddhist festival

Elena Edwards
Visakha Bucha day is one of the most venerated Buddhist festivals of the year, and falls this year on May 8, in the sixth month of the lunar calendar. The festival celebrates both the three stages of the Lord Buddha’s life; his birth, his enlightenment and his death (all of which, traditionally, fell on the same date in the year) and the “Triple Gems” of the Buddhist faith, the Lord Buddha himself, the Dharma (the teachings of the Lord Buddha) and the Sangha (the monastic community).
In Chiang Mai, the celebrations, for the many devout Buddhist who take part each year, take a special form. At sunset, the faithful join the traditional procession from the city to Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, the famous temple set high on the mountain and containing the precious relics of the Lord Buddha himself. The path winds upwards through the forest for 9 kilometres, and the procession arrives at the temple at around 3 a.m., waiting there until daylight to begin their devotions and make merit by paying homage to the Lord Buddha’s relics housed in the ancient sanctuaries.
As dawn breaks, worshippers will make offerings of food to the temple monks, and continue their devotions at the chapels containing the sacred relics. A day of Dharma readings and instruction by monks follows, culminating in the final “Wien Tien” ceremony, a candle-lit procession which winds clockwise three times around the main temple building. Each worshipper carries a candle, three sticks of incense and lotus buds, symbols of the journey towards the great light of enlightenment. This lovely and traditional ceremony ends this most sacred of Buddhist festivals.
During this religious holiday, the killing of animals and the drinking of alcohol is forbidden for 3 days. Temples will be adorned with lanterns, flowers and joss sticks as symbols of worship, and skyrockets will be lit for three days to celebrate the festival.
Banks and government offices will be closed, and alcohol should not be served in public venues.


The Royal Ploughing Ceremony - an ancient Brahman rite still performed today

Elena Edwards
In modern times, technological advances and economic importance have reduced the significance of many of Thailand’s ancient and traditional rice ceremonies and changed the people’s relationship to the natural and the supernatural. However, the impact of Brahman and Buddhist rites on ancient ceremonies still has a relevance in traditional rice-growing areas.
The historical background of the Brahman rite associated with King and country, known as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, dates back to the ancient Thai rulers and their specific role in maintaining and lifting the morale and spirit of their farmers - a role which has been handed down throughout the ages to the present day.
The ceremony, to be held this year on May 11, clearly demonstrates His Majesty the King’s support for all Thai farmers and his wish to raise their morale. The rites foretell the amount of food and water expected from the land each year, as well as giving farmers an opportunity to collect the rice grains sowed by ‘Phaya Raek Na’ (the person who performs the ceremony on behalf of the King in their own villages), which are then taken back to their farms as a good luck charm.


Community spirit as it should be – the Young People’s Musical Showcase

Jai-Pee
I often wonder, as a guest in this marvellous country, what I can do to repay the local population and community for accepting me so readily and in such a welcoming manner into their midst. On a Saturday night, April 25, the AUA Auditorium in the centre of this great city provided one such opportunity to repay some of the debt I feel as a resident of Chiang Mai.

The young performers receive the plaudits from the audience at the conclusion of the concert, together with the sponsor and organiser of the concert, Jean-Pierre Kirkland.

Thanks to the enterprising skills of one foreigner, and the well-respected Santi School of Music, here was a chance to share with young talented musicians, their families and teachers, in their love of music making, while at the same time raising some money to provide a poorer school with musical instruments so that those youngsters, too, could enjoy the thrills of live music-making.
An appreciative audience did a magnificent job of raising 5,000 baht on the night, and this will now go to a school of Ajarn Santi’s choice. But, just as importantly, the audience was able to revel in the delights of the music provided by fourteen smartly-dressed young students, aged between 12 and 23 years old, all from the Santi School, and all performing in a most professional manner.
The original intention was that a piano recital should have taken place immediately prior to the opening of the Dance Festival held in the city in March. However, having auditioned and been selected for the event, the young people were let down at the 11th hour due to technical difficulties – the organizers neglected to hire a piano! Rather than waste the hard work and dedication that these young people had demonstrated, not to mention the disappointment they felt at the time, this special evening was rearranged in slightly larger format, with the original piano pieces being supplemented by some violin and string ensemble music.
And this evening belonged entirely to those talented young people – what energy and love of music-making they showed. Although all are not yet technically perfect, these young musicians provided the audience with a delightful selection of music, played with skill, dedication and great determination.
Part of the strength of the students was that when a small mistake was made, it did not allow the performer to be put off his or her stride, and the pieces continued with gusto and relish. The nostalgic strains of two Chopin Etudes were balanced by the more emphatic and at times stormy opening movement of the Beethoven Pastoral Sonata. The rhythms of a Bach gavotte and a Mozart German dance played on the violin along with the tarantella played on the piano were appropriately balanced by the swirling arpeggios of a Liszt etude and a Chopin waltz.
The hour-plus of music was brought to a fitting conclusion with modern Chinese music which sounded much more like early romantic Western music, and the string ensemble playing the famous Marche Militaire by Schubert. How fortunate we are to have such talent in our midst so far from our original homes. And how rewarding it is to be able to put something back into the community through our presence at the concert and the generosity shown through the donations received. This is community spirit as it should be.
Unfortunately, Chiang Mai classical music-lovers were faced with a choice of two concerts taking place on the same evening, resulting in a smaller audience than expected at AUA. Even though they had been previously informed of the date, time and reason for the young performers’ concert, Payap University’s College of Music had arranged, late in the day, a similar concert at their Saisuree Music Hall. Given the amount of musical talent in our city, it would, surely, be a good idea for the various venues to coordinate in some way, thus giving all performers the chance of a ‘full house’ and all music-lovers the opportunity to hear more concerts!