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Vol. X No.18 - December 1 - December 31, 2011

Around Town
Arts - Entertainment
Book Review
Animal Welfare
Birdwatching Tales
Care for Dogs
Community Happenings
Doctor's Consultation
Eating Out
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Let’s go to the movies
Life in Chiang Mai
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Arts - Entertainment & It

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 twilight concert.

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

By Jai-Pee

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 display here.

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 eye-catching.

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 Vanderklooster).

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 corporate collections.

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 luminous effect.

The exhibition is on display until February 2, 2012. Tita Gallery is located at 68 Mu 6 Rimtai Mae Rim, 053-298-373.

Guests to the opening at Tita Gallery listen to owner Chairat Kamonoratep introduce the artist.

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

Ujin, 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.

Another Noh doll, the elaborate costumes and bright colors are indicative of the fine detail in creating these dolls.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Under the Spotlight – Stella Tai

Twilight in Chiang Rai – a Musical Lesson from Which to Learn

The colors leap out! New exhibition at Gallery116

Calming in Awareness

Tita Gallery hosts Nocturne, June Rain and Saffron Robes

American artist to honor Dr. Cynthia Maung

Exquisite dolls from Japan



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