Arts - Entertainment & It
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Achira Assawadecharit

Chiang Mai Fest 2011 Schedule

Recovering from loneliness

Poodle Abuse Gives Birth to Vigilantes in Malaysia

100 years of Chiang Mai

Elephant art in honor of National Elephant Day

A Feast of Sound – The Fifth Chiang Mai Music Festival

The Serenity and Beauty of My Homeland – a Wonderful Exhibition at Gallery 116

Social networking for women in Thailand

 

Achira Assawadecharit

By Jai Pee

Achira Assawadecharit (Ken) was born on 16 June 1993, and he is now 17 years old. After he finished secondary school at the Prince Royal’s College, Chiang Mai, he received a Music Scholarship to study further at high school level at Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok where he is currently placed.

He began to study the piano at the age of 7, firstly with Ajaan Tanyaluck Phuriyaphan, then later with Ajaan Remi Namthep, Ajaan Bernard Sumner, and Dr. Bennett Lerner at Payap University. Currently he is studying with Dr. Nopanand Chanorathaikul. Apart from studying piano he also studies clarinet with Dr Yos Vaneesorn as well as music theory which he began with Ajaan Pornjan Danpongpee then Dr. Chaipruck Mekara and Ajaan Ayu Namthep. He has been given opportunities to join training at Piano Master Classes with a lot of well-known pianists, such as Dr. Pawalai Tanchanpong, Gustavo Romero, Tong-Il Han, Thomas Hecht, Albert Tiu, Eri Nakagawa, Regina Albrink and Vanessa Latarche.

Achira has made steady and sustained progress in his musical career so far. Amongst his many credits are the following:

- In 2003 he was the winner of the Yamaha Piano competition in Northern Thailand.
- In 2005 he passed Grade 8 with distinction and obtained the highest marks, being ranked no. 1 in the London Trinity College of Music Awards for Thailand.
- In 2006 he won an Exhibition Award sponsored by Asia-Pacific for gaining one of the highest distinction marks in a practical examination during the year 2005.
- In 2007 he passed Diplomas for the Associate Trinity College London (ATCL) with distinction. The same year, he won the Golden Prize in the Classical Piano of Yamaha (Thailand) Music Festival.
- In 2008 Achira was accepted into the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music International Summer Piano Institute at Singapore. He also passed Diplomas for The Licentiate Trinity College London (LTCL) with distinction.
- In 2009, he obtained the highest marks, ranked no. 1 in the Diplomas (LTCL) in the Trinity Awards Thailand.

In 2009, the Chiang Mai Philharmonic Orchestra invited him to play the Piano Concerto No.2 by Rachmaninoff at the Kad Theater, Chiang Mai and in 2010, he performed the Chopin Piano Concerto No.1 with the Thammasat University Symphony Orchestra. Each year he performs solo piano as well as performing chamber music with the Shrewsbury International School quartet and quintet. On the 5th of May this year, he will be playing the Chopin Piano Concerto No.1 again with the Shrewsbury International School Orchestra.

Achira has won many top prizes in several national and international piano competitions. These include having gained distinctions throughout his studies at various grades, winning the Yamaha Piano Competition in Northern Thailand in 2003 winning the Golden Prize in Classical Piano Competition of Yamaha Thailand Music Festival in 2007, as well as obtaining the Diploma level at the Associate Trinity College London (ATCL) with distinction the same year. In 2008 he gained the Diploma from The Licentiate Trinity College London (LTCL) with distinction, when he was ranked No. 1. Achira obtained the highest marks in the diplomas (LTCL) for London’s Trinity College Awards Thailand in 2009. Three years ago he was accepted into the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music International Summer Piano Institute at Singapore.

He will be performing April 3rd and 4th at Santi’s Music School on Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5 at 7.30 p.m. preceded at 6.45 p.m. by a lecture.


Chiang Mai Fest 2011 Schedule

Chiang Mai Fest 2011 will be held in Chiang Mai April 8-10 for the first time to promote Chiang Mai as a destination for international music, arts, and culture in the North of Thailand. This event promises to be the most unique and colorful international event that combines top international and local performers and artists under one umbrella. Throughout the three days event, a variety of music and stage performances will be performed. Additionally, there will be art exhibitions showcasing works of various artists from around the world at the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre. The event will be held at The Three Kings Monument, which the venue and stage will be decorated under the theme concept of “Music and Dance in the garden”.

Fri 8 April 2011

16:00 Opening Ceremony at the Museum (Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center)
16:30 Guests visit Art Exhibition - lead the guests by Ballet dance
17:00 Guests are escorted by the bag piper to the performance area
17:30 Chang Saton - Play with Mask - Anucha Sumaman
18:00 Chang Saton (Drummer Music) - Pheonix Dance by Manop Manasam
19:00 Frans Bloem Cabaret vocalist perform
20:00 Nantida Khaewbuasai
21:00 Jigger Bigger Band

Sat 9 April 2011

17:00 Bollywood Dance
17:30 Noriko Tsuboi and Friends
18:00 Gilbert Medam & His Band (Brazilian Jazz & Bossa Nova)
19:00 The Itinerants (Scottish bagpiper & Celtic Band)
20:00 Pom BoyThai & Kamlai Band
21:00 Special show by Lanna Commins with special guest Todd Thongdee and Pakayor singers

Sun 10 April 2011

17:00 HobbyHut Puppet Troupe
18:00 Bollywood Dance & Music
19:00 The Itinerants (Scottish bagpiper & Celtic Band)
20:00 Pom BoyThai & Bangkok Xylophone
21:00 Jigger Bigger Band


Recovering from loneliness

By Shana Kongmun

I went to Sangdee Gallery expecting what I am not quite sure, but certainly not the bright and vibrant art that I saw. Art that matched the bubbly and joyful personality of the artist, Chanya Sottip. The show, entitled “Recovering from loneliness” imparts a sense of life, joy and vibrancy that really must be seen to be believed. If you need cheering up, then this is the exhibition for you. Additionally, if you go in the evenings, there is often live music on, Wednesday nights are always good and Thursday nights feature impromptu performances. Sangdee Gallery is located on Sirimangkalajarn Soi 5.


Poodle Abuse Gives Birth to Vigilantes in Malaysia

By Clarence Chua, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Animal lovers in Malaysia are enraged after a video of a poodle being abused was recently uploaded on the internet. The 15-minute clip that was found on a lost flash drive, has sparked attempts to track down the abuser via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The clip shows a topless 30-something-year-old man with a large tattoo on his right arm repeatedly slapping and punching a brown poodle.

Veterinarian Dr. Mathews Thomas works at an animal clinic outside Kuala Lumpur and says the poodle could have been sustained injuries from the abuse. “Because poodles are small, sometimes even a small hard tap can cause problems, a damaged ear or a broken jaw,” he says.

Kay Hee, from Petaling Jaya, is one of 15 Malaysians that filed a police report about the abuse that was broadcast by all major television stations. “There has to be some justice for the dog because the dog is voiceless. We have to do something about it,” she says.

On Facebook there are several pages for the public to provide information about dog abusers. One complaint concerns a poodle called Sushi and her alleged abusers, Doreen and Allen, from the southern state of Malacca.

The police say they are getting nowhere in their investigation of Sushi, but activists argue this is another example of the authorities taking such matters lightly. N. Surendran, Malaysia’s leading animal rights lawyer says animal abuse is not taken seriously enough in the country. “We said we are going to take vigilante action because we are frustrated with the system. We are frustrated with the police and with the authorities of this country because they do not see animal abuse as a serious issue,” he says.

By vigilante action, the lawyer means tracking down culprits and making citizen arrests if necessary. “We are prepared to make citizen arrests and bring them to justice, but of course we will do that within the bounds of the law,” he adds.

At a shopping centre in the suburbs of the capital, the Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better group runs a weekly adoption campaign for stray animals. The group’s founder, Wani Muthiah, says animal rights are coming to a head in Malaysia.

“Animal lovers in Malaysia are literally in a stand off with the authorities over the welfare of animals. The poodle case is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says. Muthiah says there have been many incidents of dog abuse in the past, even by the local council.

“There was an incident in 2009, where dogs were actually being strangled to death at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall. We had a demonstration and confronted them so now things have changed for the better there. The Klang municipal council were not feeding or watering their dogs and we also demonstrated about that. It changed. When we take a militant route we create awareness and a lot of people are backing us up,” explains Muthiah.

Lawyer N. Surendran recently led a consortium of activists to pressure the police to act against the poodle abusers. “I think animal abuse must be dealt with just as harshly as acts of violence against humans because it is clear quite clear from studies that people who abuse animals will later go on to carry out acts of violence against human beings also,” he says.

Wani Muthiah, however believes Malaysians are starting to see her point. “I think all of us pride ourselves on being fair and just human beings so the right thing to do is to share the place with other creatures as well. What kind of society are we trying to create by not confronting acts of cruelty?” she asks.

This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. In cooperation with the Faculty of Mass Communications at Chiang Mai University. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org.


100 years of Chiang Mai

By Shana Kongmun

A unique opportunity to view Chiang Mai over the years is available until March 13 at the old Sirprakat Hotel near Nawarat Bridge featuring the photos of Mr. Tanaka, a resident of Chiang Mai and professional photographer who set up his studio in Chiang Mai around the turn of the century and Boonserm Satrabhaya, whose photos continue the coverage of the tremendous changes Chiang Mai has gone through over the past 100 years. Well worth a visit, these photos show the regular flooding of Chiang Mai over the years, elephants bathing riverside in the city, and a very wet Songkran Festival that doesn’t look so different from today, except the man is using a teapot to soak some ladies rather than a water gun!

The former Sirprakat Hotel is just past the Church on the riverside and if you are lucky, you can stop and have a chat with Mr. Boonserm as he sits out front!


Elephant art in honor of National Elephant Day

Entitled Creation of Divinity number 4,
this piece shows Ganesha with the lotus flower and bell.

By Shana Kongmun

What would first appear to be chalk on a chalkboard is a deceptively complex painting of Ganesha, the Indian elephant god by local self taught artist Jakraphan Chaijit. His latest works are on display at the 2nd Floor of the Northern Village at Central Airport Plaza and convey Ganesha, Kacha, a mythological sage in Hinduism and Prakrit, which while a name for a group of languages also means original or natural. All concepts that Jakraphan portrays in his art.

With Ampaipun Tubtong of Mae Sa Elephant Camp and Anchalee Kalmapijit of the Elephant Life Experience behind him, his art holds relevance with the upcoming National Elephant Day on March 13. Designated to honor the national symbol of Thailand, its hoped that his art will inspire people to honor elephants every day for the intelligent creatures that they are. Open until March 31 at the 2nd Floor of the Northern Village. If you make it up to Mae Sa on Sunday, March 13, the Mae Sa elephant camp is hosting a feast for the elephants on their national day.

Anchalee Kalmapijit (right) and Ampaipun Tubtong pose with the piece, Divine Elephant.

(From left) The artist, Jakraphan Chaijit, Worrawit Rothjanaphaithoon, Director of The National Elephant Institute Forest Industry Organization joins Ampaipun Tubtong of MaeSa Elephant Camp, Zhu Wei Min, the Consul General for the People’s Republic of China and Orachorn Chanwiwattana, General Manger of Central Airport Plaza to cut the ribbon on the opening.

The artist presents a check in donation to the National Elephant Institute in honor of National Elephant Day.


A Feast of Sound – The Fifth Chiang Mai Music Festival

Seol Hwa Kim enthralled the audience with her poise,
grace and talent at the Chiang Mai Music Festival.

By Jai-Pee

Over the weekend of February 18th – 20th, well over 500 people were given a magnificent diet of classical music provided as the centre-piece of this year’s Music Festival. Five celebrated musicians from Korea, including the Festival’s Music Director, Professor Tong-Il Han delighted the audiences with some of the great treasures in the classical music repertoire. In addition to the main concerts, the musicians visited the Chiang Mai Youth Protection and Observation Centre in Mae Rim where they gave their audience a great display of music on piano, cello and violin and where they received a tremendous reception.

The first recital on February 18th , introduced by Festival local manager Prapan Tipsathsaporn, held in the open-air courtyard of the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Centre, was almost a damp squib as it had started raining a couple of hours before the start. But the rains ceased a little before 7.30 p.m. and with assistance from the Centre’s wonderful staff, the concert went ahead a little later than planned. The whole evening was devoted to piano works by composers such as Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin, performed by the stunningly elegant and dynamic pianist Seol-Hwa Kim, just seventeen years old. Seol-Hwa is already becoming a ‘great’ on the international recital circuits having made her debut in Vienna early last year – and this was also her fourth visit to Chiang Mai, a city she respects very much and where she adores to play. This came across without any hesitation – from the opening gentler chords of the Haydn Piano Sonata in E-flat, through the trials and tribulations of the stormy Beethoven ‘Appassionata’ Sonata to the Nocturnes of Chopin and the incredible finger-work of Schulz-Evler’s Fantasy on the Blue Danube – the audience had a dazzling performance. Full of energy, yet always in control, Miss Seol-Hwa played assuredly throughout. Her touch was brilliant. But what was so startling was the majesty which she commanded as she sat and played beneath the moon and stars – a virtue and skill that so often is the norm for far more experienced and older pianists – she is surely a name to watch in the future.

The following night at the same venue was the inaugural concert by the newly formed piano trio from Daegu, Korea, composed of violinist Sung-jun Shinn, cellist Dejan Yu and the Festival’s Music Director and Co-Founder Tong-Il Han, the celebrated world pianist now also resident in Korea after spending much of his life in the U.S.A. The first half was composed of piano trios by Haydn and Beethoven and the musicians showed instantly that there were in total harmony each with the other. Their playing was masterful throughout and nowhere more so than in the final movement of the Haydn, often labeled the ‘Gypsy’ sonata as the vibrant and enticing local Hungarian dances captivated the audience who seemed spellbound by the vibrant performance. The best was yet to come in the second half with a performance of Brahms’s Piano Trio in B opus 8. This magnificent work, a great masterpiece of the chamber repertoire was played with outstanding love for the music. Its radiance and glory echoed through the arena enthralling and mesmerizing the audience. Brahms himself would have been proud of this faultless and impeccable rendition – this is a piano trio with a brilliant future.

The final evening of the festival was an invitation-only concert hosted at the Chedi Hotel in the open-air alongside the Mae Ping River and illuminated by hundreds of flickering candles and oil lamps. All of the artists, with the addition of Tong-Il Han’s wife, pianist Helen Lee, enchanted the audience with a wide range of shorter pieces that included some great favourites such as the ‘Meditation’ from Thais by Massenet, Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz and Monti’s lively and exciting Czardas. This was a perfect finale in musical terms – a coda that summed up the significant talents of these wonderful musicians who, with their magic artistry, brought to Chiang Mai and its community ‘simply beautiful classical music’.

For more information about the Festival visit the website at: www.chiangmaimusicfestival.com Or contact Festival co-founders Anne and Kazuyoshi Murase at: [email protected] For enquiries regarding the Friends of the Chiang Mai Music Festival, contact the Festival Adviser, JP at: [email protected] , phone: 084 868 1017.

Professor Tong Il Han at the piano while his wife, Helen Lee turns the pages.
Front stage is violinist Sung-jun Shinn and cellist Dejan Yu.


The Serenity and Beauty of My Homeland – a Wonderful Exhibition at Gallery 116

By Jai-Pee

This magnificent exhibition of works of art by celebrated and famous artist Sa-Ngad Pui-Ock opened in a blaze of glory on Sunday February 20th at Gallery 116 on Charoen Muang Road just 300 metres from the Nawarat bridge. A local group of traditional musicians entertained invited guests with folk melodies followed by speeches including a welcoming address by the Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai.

What, however, was the most overwhelming experience was the beauty and depth of feeling that radiated from each of the landscape paintings. The colours and textures are splendid and they all capture that elusive spirit of grandeur that give these landscapes a spiritual dimension so often missing in some aspects of contemporary artwork. These paintings radiate the love the artist feels for his homeland – wide pastoral scenes interfused with dramatic seascapes and towering cliffs. The painting style is almost impressionist but with more dominant and larger brush strokes – the effect is quite stunning and indeed gives a picture of total serenity and peace. Here is an artist at peace with the world and the paintings are outstanding masterpieces in this field. Sa-Ngad himself is now seventy-two years old but he has lost none of his touch as he has aged – in fact this collection shows a deep emotive maturity that draws the visitor into the landscapes and makes them feel totally at home. Such a gift is rare indeed.

Mrs. Wanthip Nimmanhaeminda, the owner of the gallery is to be congratulated on mounting such a fine exhibition. Sa-Ngad is well known throughout the Kingdom for his work and he remains one of Thailand’s most celebrated personalities in this genre. All the paintings are for sale and although they may seem a little expensive by Chiang Mai standards, they are worth every last satang. The wonder of this collection is that all of these works of art would not look out of place in any location – instead they enhance and beautify the setting immensely. The exhibition is open until April 10th and the Gallery open from 10.00am until early evening daily. For more information visit the website on www.116artgallery.com or phone 053 302 111. This is a definite must for all those who love art – it is not to be missed.


Social networking for women in Thailand

By Shana Kongmun

Online social networking could be the catchphrase of the new decade, with sites such as Facebook reaching more than half a million members last year. And while other giants such as MySpace seem to have fallen by the wayside, smaller more targeted social networks continue to grow. One such relative giant is Thaivisa forums with more than 100,000 members and a growing newcomer to the scene targeting women in Thailand; Chickynet which started in 2009 in Phuket, relaunched on a new site last year with locations ranging across Thailand, Hua Hin, Samui, Bangkok, Phuket and, of course, Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Chickynet members organized a get together last year at Miguel’s in Nong Hoi that saw quite a turnout, which many found quite unexpected. Chickynet proves one thing, that the expat woman is not alone in Thailand. With more than 1,300 members and growing, it has proven a valuable resource for women in Thailand to get in touch with other women. Often asking the usual questions, such as where can I get my hair done? But also organizing sporting groups, get togethers, book clubs and more.

There was an argument that online social networking was killing face to face interaction but parties and meet ups from various social networks in Chiang Mai including both Chickynet and Thaivisa recently, have proven that isn’t necessarily the case and that sometimes, it broadens your horizons and allows you to meet people you wouldn’t normally connect with in day to day living.

Chickynet is open only to women as it’s a women’s networking site, www.chickynet.com but as Chickynet founder Berthe Mandaat commented, “Members I speak to always thought that there were hardly any women here in Thailand, the surprise they show when discovering that we are here in big numbers always brings a big smile to my face. Everyone is connecting and making new friends. And best of all not only the members are connecting but also their partners and friends. That’s what makes it so worth it to me.”