Widhida Supaporn and Achira Assawadecharit in Recital
On Friday July 24th two
young pianists presented a decent-sized audience with a selection of pieces
in the Recital Room at Payap University. The nearly fourteen year old
Widhida, (Amie), played Bach, Haydn and Chopin. She managed the Chopin
Etude in F minor, Opus 25 well, coping adequately with the
demands of the piece; but nerves got the better of her in both the other
compositions which she found very challenging. Sixteen year old Achira,
(Ken), then followed with the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto
No.21 in C, K.467, with Ajaan Bennett Lerner as accompanist. A
very good performance full of energy and drive, Ken played confidently and
unerringly. He maintained a very good balance between the more rhythmic and
sometimes almost jerky first theme and the delightful lyrical and very
romantic second subject. Ajaan Bennett gave good support in what was a very
fine performance. Somehow, the organisers got things wrong at this point and
the programmed intermission was abandoned so that Ken proceeded with a
technically near-perfect performance of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D
minor. The organisers then realized that the intermission had been
forgotten, and while Ken was still sitting on his piano stool, the comperes
came on to announce that there would be a ten minute interval, much to Ken’s
surprise! There could not have been a more inappropriate interruption to a
pianist’s concentration than an unwarranted intrusion like this.
Luckily, Ken did not lose his composure and in the now reconstituted second
half, delighted the audience with a dazzling display of finger work in the
Chopin Etude in C sharp minor, Opus 10, followed by a delightful
interpretation of the Mozart Piano Sonata in C minor, K475. I wonder
why this sonata yet again? It must be the fourth time this year it has been
performed, to the great neglect of the other eighteen sonatas that Mozart
wrote. Having said that, Ken played this very well, especially in the
lengthy adagio where his supple wrist movements allowed him to capture with
elegance the flowing melodies, contrasting these expressively with the
intuitive questioning of the other sections. The great highlight of the
evening was the strident, dynamic and thrilling performance of
Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G minor with which Ken ended the recital.
He played outstandingly and showed us that he is indeed a very talented
While not wishing to detract from an evening that was set up to support and
help promote young talent, I do wish the organisers could be more
professional in their approach. We were furnished with very complete
programme notes on the pianists – why then hire two comperes to reiterate
all that information prior to the performances? The audience can read and it
was not surprising to hear groans and sighs from many people as the comperes
came on yet again to re-state what we already had in front of us.
Admittedly, there was no written Thai translation, but with some forethought
that too could have been dealt with. The interruption in the middle was
terrible for the young player himself and was most unprofessional. In
conversation before and after the recital, it was apparent that many of the
audience would appreciate a different kind of repertoire – and the
enthusiastic and spontaneous applause for the final piece really did show
that they loved something innovative that a good student could play so well.
Let’s have more of this, please!
Zingdarella…Cinders with a modern moral!
Chiang Mai University’s English department’s English Club recently
gave a polished performance of the famous fairy tale Cinderella, updated to
include a modern moral and entitled, ‘Zingdarella’.
The play cleverly followed the original as regards characters, with the
action transferred to Macao and Hong Kong. Zingdarella, played by Patchanee
Tongkun, and now called Nicky, was provided with the traditional wicked
stepmother, (Tornchaya Khattikroot) and two equally unpleasant stepsisters,
(Phitchakan Chuangchai and Matthanee Churpudee). The handsome prince,
however, became Prince, the boy next door, secretly in love with Nicky, and
played by Poom Polachan.
Being very concerned about the manner in which his secret love was being
treated, Prince attempted to rescue her, injuring the wicked stepmother in
the process! The pair saw no option but to run away to Hong Kong, where they
both got jobs as mascots at Disneyland.
Nicky, of course, was desperate to wear a Cinderella costume, as she loves
the character so much, and was dismayed when an American girl was chosen,
particularly when she grabbed the character’s shoe and found the American
girl had huge feet! Nicky, of course, had, as did Cinders herself, very
small, dainty feet! Sadly, as a result of her action, she was dismissed from
the parade and from her job, and very, very unhappy. All, however, was not
lost, as the faithful boy-next- door, Prince, took care of her and finally
confessed his love for the confused girl.
A fairytale ending…the modern moral being that fantasy and reality can never
be as one! Living in the real world and dealing with all the changes this
brings is the way to live life. Following a dream can give purpose to life,
but only if mistakes are used as learning experiences.
The play was written by Suparak Techachareonrungruang , Supatchaya Areemitr
and Teeranoot Siriwittayakorn and directed by Ajaan Sura Intamool. The
entire cast coped very well with the demands of the language and obviously
enjoyed every minute, making Zingdarella a charming and very entertaining
experience for the audience.
A Little Night Music
On Friday 7 and Saturday August 8 at 7 p.m. in CMU’s Wijisin Hall
on the 8th floor of the
Faculty of Humanities the Princess Galyani Vadhana Chamber Orchestra will
present 2 wonderful public concerts, with tickets priced at 500 and 300
baht, and100 baht for students with ID. Both concerts will include Mozart’s
delightful and probably most performed piece, his Serenade for Strings in
G major K525, known as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Composed in 1787 while Mozart was working on Act 2 of his great opera Don
Giovanni, we have no inclination or evidence of how or why this magic piece
came to be composed. Preceding this will be conductor Usni Pramoj’s own
composition, Threnody, premiered on May 6th this
year in Bangkok – this piece was written as a memorial to the late and much
loved Princess Galyani Vadhana and that first performance was on her
birthday following her death.
The concert will also include the short and elegant Trumpet Concerto in E
flat by Vincenzo Bellini. Known best for his great bel canto
operas such as La Somnambula and Norma, Bellini originally wrote this very
short yet delightful three movement concerto for oboe and strings, and on
the two concert nights, it will be performed by Thailand’s foremost
trumpeter, Lertkiat Chongjirajitra. He is a founder, leader and manager of
the Bangkok Brass Quintet, principal trumpet with both the Bangkok Symphony
Orchestra and the Princess Galyani Institute Orchestra as well as professor
of Brass at Silpakorn University. Interested readers might like to learn
more about this award winning musician and his spectacular career on
The final piece in this wonderful duo of concerts will be the superb
Serenade for Strings in C major, opus 48 by Tchaikovsky.
This charming serenade premiered in 1880 is one of the late Romantic
period’s most definitive compositions. The first movement is written as an
imitation of the style of Mozart and the second movement, Valse, is often
performed as a popular piece in its own right. What a splendid treat we have
in just a couple of weeks! Tickets in advance can be obtained by phoning
0833212883 or at the door.
The necessity for a compulsory or required course in culture
and communication for Thai undergraduate students
All undergraduate students in tertiary education in Thailand should be given
some form of compulsory or required course in culture and communication or
cross cultural communication in order to be able to cope with the so-called
“globalization” of the world in which people and communities can no longer
merely interact within their own communities, but have to act within a much
larger context of the whole world on all levels of trade, business,
industry, education, and politics, in a co-operative way to collaborate on
projects and not just compete amongst one another.
Such a course does not mean more courses in English or Chinese as a second
language or a course in comparative linguistics. Nor should it be a course
on how to do business in or with people from a foreign culture in order to
outwit and dominate your business partner. A course on culture and
communication should provide a better understanding of the values and
socio-psychological principles that guide people’s actions and
communications and how these may be reflected in the structure and
pragmatics of the languages they speak and other paralinguistic forms of
communication used. And as it cannot be a Cook’s Tour of the world’s
cultures, it should provide as an outcome general sensitivity to these
issues, and apart from learning a few general strategies for coping, should
enable students to develop strategies for themselves based on an enhanced
awareness of these issues.
Today, although we can communicate across great distances and travel
physically with ease to other cultures, we live under a shadow of troubled
inter-ethnic and inter-cultural relations. This is probably due to this ease
of cross-cultural interpenetration and the perceived threat of loss of
identity and culture it brings. Ironically at the same time communication
across great distances at an instant has lead to the possibility of small
cultural communities or groupings maintaining their identity and localized
character while separated by vast physical distances. This means that while,
on the one hand, modern travel can lead to cross cultural contact, this is
not necessarily the case as it affords cultural groups the means to retreat
in the physical contact space and in actuality to maintain a small cultural
group identity. On the one hand this is positive in that it allows minority
groupings the means to maintain their identity and culture through contact
via distance media, although they may be physical separated from their other
group members. On the other hand, this means that travellers or sojourners
in places removed from their mother community do not have a strong incentive
to learn much about the surrounding culture and community or integrate to
any great degree, i.e they learn little about other cultures and may not be
pushed to develop cross cultural communication skills. This is often the
case of international students who often band together in overseas
universities in communal houses and apart from brief sorties to lectures and
seminars at the university; they have little contact with the local culture
and language. As a result the supposed opportunity for learning in and about
another environment is often lost. As a result of Twitter and the recent
phenomenon of social networking sites, the so-called ‘play space’ of the
present generation has greatly increased and privacy relaxed, but this ease
of communication can be very superficial and lack a deeper understanding of
the underlying beliefs and values of the other.
To illustrate what is meant by looking at culture in greater depth form a
psychological view point we can turn to a recent article by Neff et al
(2008) in which they report on an investigation of the levels of
self-compassion in three countries, the United States of America, Thailand
and Taiwan. Perhaps surprisingly, the self-compassion levels of the USA
respondents fell between those of Thailand and Taiwan with those in Taiwan
being the lowest. This demonstrates that s superficial grouping of Taiwan
and Thailand as countries with an Asian culture versus the USA as a western
culture is a far too superficial approach to be of much value.
The results may not be surprising for Thailand as Buddhism stresses that
this universal idea called compassion must be mindful; however,without first
having compassion for the self it cannot be extended successfully to others.
Thai culture exemplifies this idea of paying attention kindly to one’s own
errors in the saying Pid Ken Kru (‘errors are teachers’) and in the notion
of krengchai. People need to understand mindfully their own and other
cultures in depth and how people may construe themselves and others in order
to be able to negotiate, interact and communicate successfully with people
from other cultures. And in doing so we may come to understand our own
culture much better and this may be an equally compelling motive for arguing
for the need for a compulsory course in cross-cultural communication.
References: Neff, Kristin, Pisitsungkagran, Kullaya, & Ya-Ping Hsieh
(2008). Self-Compassion and Self-Construal in the United States, Thailand
and Taiwan. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 39 (3): pp 267-285.