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Arts - Entertainment & It

An Amazing Music Festival

Japanese-born pianist Jun Komatsu, Thailand’s leading violin player Tasana Nagavajara, and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra’s leading clarinetist, Yos Vaneesorn peformed for the Friends of Music Making in Chiang Mai at the Santi School of Music on Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5.

During the weekend of June 1st – 3rd Chiang Mai played host to some of the highest caliber professional musicians in the country. Organised by the dynamic group Friends of Music Making in Chiang Mai, this was a festival that will be remembered by a lot of people for a long time to come.

The opening Friday night event was quite extraordinary, consisting of a three hour long illustrated seminar outlining the development over several decades of La Chanson Franšaise. It was hosted by one of the members in his apartment where 35 others packed themselves in for this highly nostalgic and entertaining presentation by JP. With illustrations on the screen from all over France and Quebec, JP had selected songs on CD and DVD with a well-presented professionally produced handbook to accompany the seminar – comments from members pointed out that this was the best seminar they had ever attended; that it was full of remarkable and carefully chosen excerpts; that it was presented with humour, clarity and energy. It was an amazing evening completed with desserts and drinks.

On Saturday June 2nd the delightful upper room of the Lemon Tree Restaurant played host to a welcoming lunch for the guest musicians who had just arrived from Bangkok – Japanese-born pianist Jun Komatsu, Thailand’s leading violin player Tasana Nagavajara, this time clutching a viola, and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra’s leading clarinetist, Yos Vaneesorn. Enjoyable and convivial as the lunch was, it was the evening performance that set the musical world alight in the intimate music salon of Santi’s Music School. Preceded by a lecture from JP, the trio embarked on two rarely heard delicacies from the classical repertoire – Mozart’s incredible piano, viola and clarinet trio in Eb, the ‘Kegelstatt Trio’, K 498 and the marvelously crafted ‘Eight Pieces’ for the same combination of instruments by Max Bruch. The sounds were remarkable from the opening clarinet entry in the first movement of the Mozart – lyrical, wistful and intoxicating - through to some of the vibrant and evocative movements in the late romantic work by Max Bruch. The playing was immaculate throughout – tender and lyrical where it needed to be; forceful and penetrating in other passages. Together the viola and clarinet made such mesmerizing sounds, and with the flawless and supportive piano accompaniment, the evening was truly a great musical moment. These are musicians of the highest caliber – entirely professional in their approach, totally dedicated to providing the audience with the most expert of performances and thoroughly in tune with the music they play.

On Sunday afternoon June 3rd again at the Santi Music School, there was another rare treat in store for festival-goers. Seldom do we hear of Argentinian composers so to be given a performance of the astonishing La Historia del Tango by Astor Piazzola was a great and enjoyable bonus. JP once again set the scene with an informative lecture during which one of the members, Paul-Andre amazed the audience by recalling his meeting with the composer in 1990 and showing a signed LP by Piazzolla presented to him after a concert in Germany. The performance was superb, the piece being a history of the Tango from 1900 to the present day – just for clarinet and piano. Funky at times, melodic at others, this remarkable and rarely heard piece was a joy to hear, especially when played with such evident pleasure and panache by the two musicians, Jun and Yos.

The lecture and performance from the previous day was repeated on Sunday evening to end the festival – and what could have been a more fitting ending – the audience giving the players a well-deserved standing ovation. The festival was a true reward to those who had loyally and unstintingly supported the Friends of Music Making over the years and if the comments by members of the audience are anything to go by (many phrases are incorporated in the text above), this event will truly be etched in the memory for a long time!

The musicians joined JP and Dr. Howard C. Graves Jr after the performance.

Chiang Mai Ensemble wows the audience

The Chiang Mai Ensemble with Mutita Narkmuang, guitar; Remi Namtep, piano; Ong-ard Kanchaisak, counter-tenor; Witsaruth Tawinno, cello; and Xavier Vichitporn, flute.

By Shana Kongmun
One of the wonderful things about living in Chiang Mai is the plethora of music being performed by talented musicians around the city. Whatever your taste you are sure to find something you enjoy. However, you don’t need to be a classical music buff to be amazed by the talent and beauty of the performance put on by the Chiang Mai Ensemble at the AUA Auditorium this month.

The Ensemble is comprised of Witsaruth Tawinno on the cello, Xavier Vichitporn performing on the flute, Mutita Narkmuang on the guitar, Remi Namtep on the piano and Ong-ard Kanchaisak joining in with his amazing counter-tenor. On this night the Ensemble offered an “Invitation to Dance”.

Performing classical dance music, or just music that makes you want to dance, the Ensemble performed the Sentimental Waltz by Vivaldi, the Mermaid’s Song by Haydn, indeed a full program including an outstanding performance of Habanera from Bizet’s opera Carmen. The opened with a modern piece composed by Ajarn BringkopVora-urai specifically for the Ensemble entitled “Rice Wine and Bamboo” and closed with a composition by ┴stor Piazzolla, Libertango, arranged by Remi Namtep.

Each performer had the chance to shine and shine they did, offering outstanding performances that made everyone in the audience look forward to October when they plan their next performance. Xavier’s performance on the flute in Felix Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from Midsummer Night’s Dream amazed the audience with his virtuoso performance, while Remi’s performance on the piano of the Sentimental Waltz really did make the audience want to get up and dance.

Guitarist Mutita showed her skill and feeling with a solo performance of Bach’s Prelude, Fugue and Allegro BWV 998 and young cellist Witsaruth Tawinno’s performances with both Ong-ard, Mutita and Xavier was very impressive. Ong-ard, of course, amazed the crowd with one member of the audience saying she was so surprised to hear the powerful voice coming out of him. His beautiful counter-tenor thrilled the crowd in the many pieces he performed but his rendition of Habanera filled the auditorium and thrilled the audience.

The Chiang Mai Ensemble’s next performance is scheduled for the end of October, the exact date to be announced so be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for this impressive group’s next performance.

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An Amazing Music Festival

Chiang Mai Ensemble wows the audience