Under the Spotlight – Stella Tai
Malaysian soprano Stella Tai
recently performed in Chiang Rai.
By Jai Pee
Stella Tai is a Malaysian soprano with
a remarkable history and a remarkable voice! She was born some 40 years ago
in Johore Bahru, near to the Malaysian border with Singapore. Both her
parents are Malaysian-Chinese and Stella speaks fluent Mandarin as a result.
As a young girl, Stella started to go to Sunday school at a local church and
later became a fully-fledged Christian, something that has greatly
influenced her current career. She then went to Austria and settled in
Vienna studying voice under Professor Ava Pheizhen at the famous Vienna
Academy of Music and Performing Arts. She majored in vocal studies in 1995.
Stella remained in Austria for a total of eleven years singing in many
concerts and recitals throughout the country, as well as giving similar
performances in her native country. Over the years, she has been invited to
perform and give vocal training in different churches, choral societies and
music organizations. Currently she is working both as a chorus trainer and
vocal tutor in the Chiang Mai Lahu Bible Institute and Lahu Training Centre
in Northern Thailand while living here in Chiang Mai.
Her recent performance in the Chiang
Rai Twilight Concert on December 17th at the Villa Darakorn was
quite remarkable – she presented an incredible range of music ranging from
Chinese traditional and popular songs through to Christmas carols. Her voice
is velvety and mellow and remarkably strong in the middle and upper
registers, where she excels. One of her first songs in performance was the
tricky and quite demanding Richard Strauss masterpiece ‘Zeuignung’ but her
preference is for operatic arias by Puccini, Madama Butterfly being one of
her favourites. With a bubbling personality, she is able to capture the
essence of music most effectively and with speaking Malay, Mandarin, German
and English she has little need of a ‘repetiteur’! Stella will be a great
asset to the Chiang Mai musical community where no doubt we will be hearing
a lot more of her in the future.
Twilight in Chiang Rai – a Musical Lesson from Which to Learn
Guests enjoy a glass of wine
and food on the balcony of the beautiful Villa Darakorn prior to the
By Jai Pee
What is it that makes music so very
special to people? Is it melody, orchestration, harmony, counterpoint – or
some combination of all these and more? Many people would say it varies from
person to person and that would be my view. But when you are sitting in a
delightful verdant glade surrounded by tall proud trees, flowering bushes
and dancing lights and you see 40 young people walk on to the stage
clutching their violins, violas, cellos and double basses in such a setting,
something greater than those facets listed above is at work. Young people
cannot play many of those instruments perfectly but their sheer
determination, concentration and love of what they are doing all add
different dimensions to any prescribed musical formula. And on Saturday
December 17th an intrepid group of Friends of Music Making in
Chiang Mai made the 190 kilometre trip to support and encourage those young
people who have set off on their musical journeys to who knows where.
The musical experiences were
wide-ranging and the luxuriant surroundings of the delightful Villa Darakorn
with its 300 varieties of flowering shrubs, bushes and trees added immensely
to the overall ambience there. With three conductors – regular resident
Paramet Lerdkasem, young Kah Chun Wong from Singapore and an even younger
Tanapat Thanandorn – plus soloists Judith Utley on harp and Stella Tai, a
powerful soprano, the strains of melodies by Mozart or Handel, traditional
Chinese songs and a melody by His Majesty the King, the large audience
settled down to an evening of great pleasure. For these young performers and
for those who have worked so hard to support them thus far, such a concert
will remain in their hearts and minds for many years to come. For many in
the audience, the evening will also be one to cherish. This enjoyment was
enhanced by the way the owners of the Villa, Suphavit Piamphongsant, his
wife and their son welcomed guests to this annual event with cordiality and
smiles. In attendance was program manager Witaya Tumornsoontorn, now adviser
to the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, who for over 30 years has been
encouraging the development of musical appreciation in Thailand. After
hearing the way that these young musicians gave of their best he must be
relieved and satisfied to know that live musical performance has a secure
future throughout the Kingdom. And the lesson we all can learn is that with
endeavor and adult encouragement, there will eventually be success – and to
have been a part of that gives greater meaning to spending half a day and a
twilight concert in Chiang Rai.
All proceeds from this annual event are
being sent to Children in Need in Northern Thailand.
The colors leap out! New exhibition at Gallery116
Artists Suntree Niran, left,
and Tjisa Iris, right, with one of Tjisa's large canvasses
The new art exhibition at Gallery116 on Charoen Muang Road close to the
Nawarat Bridge is entitled “Nouveau Expressionisme”. Despite the grammatical
error in the French title, and semantics apart, we have here a marvelous
display of fresh stimulating artistry where, as Slovenian artist Tjasa Iris
put it, the colors leap out at you. And this they most certainly do. The
exhibition focuses on four artists – Bhensine Nilavadhanananda, Eng-on
Homsuwan, Tjasa Iris and Suntree Niran.
Tjasa Iris, Slovenian born and bred, is on an extended visit to S. E. Asia
and she has already had a significant exhibition of her work in Singapore
and Kuala Lumpur – but her visit to the magnificent Phu Ping Palace and
gardens in Chiang Mai province has inspired the collection of her works on
Eng-Orn's vivid painting of
the entrance to her home in Doi Saket.
The colors certainly do leap out but in a carefully balanced manner so that
they envelop and warm rather than dazzle. The use of orange, yellow and blue
in two of her large canvasses is very attractive and in her largest frame,
the purple with yellow and a little blue is quite overwhelming in its
imposing and grandiose creativity. Tjasa herself, much influenced by the
southern German and Viennese schools of art, spent time in Paris where she
learnt much of her skill and developed her natural talents further.
Bhensine Nilavadhananonda also went to Paris after an initial period of
study at Silpakorn University in Bangkok – but she stayed there for 42
years! Her eleven paintings reflect the beauty of nature and focus on the
Luxembourg Gardens in Paris with one especially attractive canvass featuring
Notre-Dame cathedral. The use of color here is again vibrant and
Eng-orn Homsuwan, now a regular exhibitor in Chiang Mai since she moved to
Doi Saket from Bangkok has included a superb canvass of the entrance to her
home which is a pure delight. It is tastefully sandwiched between paintings
of flowers which are her specialty. The six paintings by Suntaree Hiran are
more subdued in color but nevertheless they are appealing to eye and mind.
The use of more restrained tones is very attractive as it contrasts
beautifully with the other exhibits.
In all, the exhibition, open until February 12th 2555, is both relaxing and
meditative – there is no finer way to spend a few minutes than to sit on one
of the comfortable seats and allow the colors to wash over you, absorbing
their lush and effervescent hues – as one poet once wrote “what is this life
if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?” – this could not be a
more apt slogan for this imaginative and inspired display, which
incidentally is also supplemented by some other attractive art work by local
artists. The gallery is open daily (except Mondays) from 10.00am until
6.00pm. Phone 053 302 111 for more information.
Calming in Awareness
An exhibition entitled
"Calming in Awareness" by modern artist Chumpol Taksapornchai is being held
at the 2nd Floor Gallery. Chumpol, although a native of Bangkok currently
lives in Chiang Mai and is known for his simple paintings that focus on
people and their feelings with an emphasis on the importance of family
values and Buddhist philosophy as a way of life. His evocative works attempt
to stimulate the viewer’s feelings and to offer a deeper meaning of reality.
His paintings are on display until January 7. The 2nd Floor Gallery is
located on the corner of Ratchapakinai and Ratwithi roads. (Photo by Martin
Tita Gallery hosts Nocturne, June Rain and Saffron Robes
Artist Thep Thavonsouk was on
hand at Tita Gallery for the showing of his paintings. Thep’s oil on canvas
and watercolor on rice paper have been on display in a Canadian museum and
Noted Lao artist Thep Thavonsouk is exhibiting at the
lovely and peaceful Tita Gallery in Mae Rim. The exhibition, titled
Nocturne, June Rain and Saffron Robes. Thep emigrated to Calgary, Canada in
1972 and yet returned to Asia to study art and painting. He studied under
noted Chinese artists in Taiwan and paper cutting and wood block printing in
Japan. He eventually returned to Canada but still draws inspiration for his
paintings from his homeland. His paintings have been described as a mixture
of impressionism and realism, the play of light and subtle colors offering a
The exhibition is on display until
February 2, 2012. Tita Gallery is located at 68 Mu 6 Rimtai Mae Rim,
the opening at Tita Gallery listen to owner Chairat Kamonoratep introduce
American artist to honor Dr. Cynthia Maung
Jim McNalis poses with his
latest sculpture, that of Dr. Cynthia Maung who has dedicated years of
service to the Mae Tao Clinic.
By Kim Vierra
American artist Jim McNalis, who has created a well known sculpture of Aung
San Suu Kyi, has joined forces with Zipporah Sein, General Secretary of the
Karen National Union (KNU) in assembling individuals and organizations on
the border at Mae Sot to honor Dr. Cynthia Maung for her many years of
dedicated service at Mae Tao Clinic.
McNalis who recently completed a portrait sculpture of Dr. Cynthia said, “I
have admired Dr. Cynthia for so long and was inspired to do a sculpture of
this remarkable woman. When it was completed I realized that it might
provide a good opportunity to organize a tribute to her with the
presentation of the sculpture".
McNalis has been working with representatives of the KNU, Karen Women's
Organization (KWO) and the Medical Backpackers to organize a tribute to
celebrate Dr. Cynthia's dedication and service.
"Dr. Cynthia has been presented some of the world's most prestigious awards
for her work", McNalis said, "but it seemed appropriate for all of those on
the border that have benefited from her work at the clinic to honor her. I
am delighted that the presentation of this sculpture was able to give rise
to such a well deserved event".
McNalis resides in Florida but travels in Southeast Asia during 5 months of
the year. He has created sculptures of some of Burma's key figures in the
democracy movement including Aung San Suu Kyi, Min Ko Naing, Zarganar,
Bogoke Bo Mya and The Moustache Brothers. (PR)
Exquisite dolls from Japan
Toko-kazari; A Gogatsu Ningyo doll for boys,
depicts a young warrior going into his first battle.
By Shana Kongmun
Dolls aren’t just for children in Japan, as many may mistakenly
think of this exhibit that closed at Chiang Mai University Art Center this
week. At least, until they walk through the door and see the exquisitely
crafted dolls with their detailed costumes and headdresses. The dolls of
Japan are famous, and after seeing this exhibit, rightly so.
The exhibit, titled “Kingdom of Dolls” shows off modern dolls crafted in the
time honored traditions, with different festivals ad styles on display. Noh
Theater is one of Japan’s traditional art forms and the actors wear
elaborate masks and costumes as they dance, the Noh Dolls in this exhibit
are crafted down to the smallest detail, there are dolls representing
Kabuki, the customs of Japan and many others.
The Dolls of Japan is just another exhibit that brings world class art to
Chiang Mai. The Chiang Mai Art Center has a website, in Thai and English,
listing their shows and exhibits.
This doll is
from the Noh theater and depicts a young lady holding a flower basket.
doll, the elaborate costumes and bright colors are indicative of the fine
detail in creating these dolls.