Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beauty and Sadness

So I found myself making my way toward the Grand Palace at about eleven o'clock at night, knowing that the nightly service for HRH The Princess doesn't end until about midnight. It was a very still evening and the palace deserted except for the perpetual honor guard. The palace brilliantly lit, the evening service only attended by about six people, all people who loved the princess very much, I think. Incredible chanting … these monks are the Jascha Heifetzes of Buddhist chanting, with virtuoso trills, portamenti, and other peculiar vocal effects, and frighteningly in tune....

HRH The Princess lies behind an impressive fa├žade; there's gold everywhere, and a brand new seven-tiered umbrella signifying her posthumous elevation to an even higher rank, yet the coffin itself, concealed from public view, is elegant in its simplicity, seeming more in character with how HRH was in life. In Thailand one should not really cry at funeral services, but I cannot help myself. There is a stately beauty to this chanting that takes you to a place far outside the tangible world.

Outside the throne room, on the grounds right outside the royal pavilion, there are about a hundred wreaths on display. These have all been offered by the rajasakuls, or royal families, whose surnames indicate some level of royal blood. The Sucharitkul wreath is there, too, but it's the only one not marked as a rajasakul, but instead as "rajinikul" ... that's because our family has contributed a line of queens to the present dynasty, starting with the reign of the Fourth Rama. It's curious to see this wreath; I had a photo taken with it as you can see above.

Today I opened the file of all the faxes that have gone back and forth between myself and HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, many of them in her own handwriting. It was curiously moving to see them all and to realize how much she cared about every little aspect of the classical music world. Perhaps, one day, this correspondence will see publication.

I recently made (with the help of contributions from friends and relatives) a new recording of the "Galyani Symphony". I hope to release it in due course. The orchestra played really brilliantly. But listening to the recording (still unedited) makes me sad....

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