Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Victory in Vienna....




Siam Sinfonietta, the two-year-old youth orchestra founded by Silpathorn Kittikhun Artist Somtow Sucharitkul, has won first place in one of the most prestigious competitions for youth ensembles, at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, on July 8th, 2012.  The orchestra beat out finalists from Australia, the United States and Denmark and dazzled the jury with music by Thai and Austrian composers.  The next day, the orchestra performed in the “Winners Concert” at Vienna’s celebrated Konzerthaus as part of the victory celebration.  Thailand’s internationally known conductors Somtow and Trisdee na Patalung alternated conducting chores during the competition.
The Summa Cum Laude Festival has taken place for the last fourteen years in Vienna and each year welcomes dozens of choirs, bands and orchestras from around the world.  To participate members must first be auditioned by video and audio submissions.  The judges are top professionals from around the world and the patron of the festival is famed conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Somtow said, “The choice of repertoire for the competition itself was crucial and I think one of the factors that helped us was our sheer chutzpah in presenting, in Vienna, a new transcription of part of Gustav Mahler’s posthumous Tenth Symphony which I did from Mahler’s pencil sketches.  Thiswas quintessentially Viennese music, presented in Vienna to judges who know Mahler’s music backwards.  It was a risky move which paid off brilliantly. The chair of the judging committee said to me afterwards — ‘Your arrangement really sounded like Mahler — and your orchestra really played it like authentic Mahler.’  This was an amazing compliment.”
The compulsory piece for the composition was Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, an extremely well known piece.  Trisdee na Patalung chose to conduct theoverture in a historically informed style (this style indeed was pioneered by Nikolaus Harnoncourt in the 1970s.)  His artistic choices really got the jury’s attention and they became aware that the Siam Sinfonietta’s performance style is quite cutting edge and up to date on the latest
European discoveries about the classical style.  “The other orchestras seem to have played the Beethoven in a more conservative, ‘safer’ style,” Trisdeesaid.  Watching the jury’s faces while Trisdee conducted, Somtow said, “There came a unique moment where Trisdee takes a split-second ‘comma’ or moment of silence before attaching a certain climactic sequence.  At that moment, one of the jury members had a broad smile of approval and we knew that Trisdee had hit upon an interpretation that was not only new, but absolutely right for the music.  From that moment on, I knew that the jury were on our side.”
Two pieces by Thai composers received their Austrian premieres in the Musikverein as well.  One was Trisdee’s well-known composition Eternity  for pi java and symphony orchestra.  “I chose this piece,” Somtow said, “because I knew the sound of the pi java would be absolutely mesmerizing to a European audience.  And as I thought, the minute the sound was heard, the jury members rushed to open their copies of the score of the piece, trying to figure out whether the ornamentation was written in or improvised.” Composed in memory of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, Eternity was played at the princess’s funeral in 2008 and has become Trisdee’s best-known work.
The final piece played in composition was an excerpt from the upcoming ballet-opera Suriyothai by Somtow, a piece called “Burmese March.”  Somtow said, “This is not a deeply moving piece like Eternity nor is it a profoundly complex emotional labyrinth like Mahler’s Purgatorio.  I wrote this piece to show off the Sinfonietta’s command of color and rhythm and drama ... and it fits their abilities like a glove.”
The Burmese March was selected by the jury to be played at the winners’ concert.
The Sinfonietta, sponsored by the Singha Corporation with specially airfare concessions from Thai International, has been on a four-country tour of Central Europe.  They opened June 30th at the Cuvillies Theatre in Munich, where Mozart once conducted the world premiere of his opera Idomeneo.  They then performed in Frankfurt, in a church in the Czech town of Tachov, at Bouzov Castle near Olomouc, in Slovakia at a festival in the town of Pest’ane before arriving in Vienna where they had two scheduled concerts in addition to the competition.
The repertoire played during the tour has been varied, including premieres by two young composers, Poumpak Charuprakorn and Natthapong (Jay) Yutthanasirikul who is the orchestra’s concertmaster and also, as violin soloist, played the haunting Romance in F by Beethoven.  The tour’s lineup also included Somtow’s 1974 arrangement of H.M. the King’s “Sai Fon” originally commissioned by the Chulangkorn University chorus, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 8, and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.
Before they want on stage, Somtow did a very Thai thing.  He led the orchestra in a brief meditation.  “We are single organism,” he told them. “If the conductor is the brain, and the concert master is the heart, each one of you is a vital organ and each one of you is indispensible.”  Somtow then spoke about how music comes from love, and quoted the teachings of Lord Buddha and St. Paul about the nature of love.  He then asked the orchestra to close their eyes and try to feel each others’ presence, to breathe as one and feel as one.  Somtow says, “I believe that this meditation reinforced our orchestra’s feeling of oneness and it is a distinctly Thai way of approaching our art and our feelings.”  He also asked everyone to remember HRH Princess Galyani, the patron saint of classical music in Thailand.
“The tour was an incredible opportunity for these young Thai musicians,” Somtow stand.  “To stand in the very epicenter of classical music, to breathe the air the Mozart Beethoven, Mahler and Schubert breathed, to see the sights and actually make music in the very halls these great composers played in ... this was a life-changing experience.  I’m so proud of all of them, from my two star students Trisdee and Natthapong who have forged their unique musical identities from all the raw material I’ve given them, to every member of this orchestra who has worked so hard to make this happen.”
When the head of the jury got up to address the orchestra at the end of their performance, he said what he did not say to any other orchestra.  He said, “The people of Vienna have heard the message from Thailand loud andclear.”  What he meant by this was that our Thai musicians, our young people who feel so passionately about this art form  — we have succeeded in being accepted as part of the mainstream of classical music.  We are not outsiders looking in.  We are a very big part of the adventure.
“Everything has changed as a result of this victory,” Somtow said.  “The music world has seen us now.  We are on the map.  All things are now possible for Thailand’s serious young musicians.”

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Requiem for the Mother of Songs


This is a complete video of the premiere ... hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why can't I dream

Why can't I dream

A song from my new musical, "Reya"

English translation of lyrics:


Why can’t I dream
Just like other little girls
Why can’t I fantasize
Of milk-white skin and golden curls?
I see all around me
an endless green lawn
a golden pavilion
shining in the dawn
I'm looking round about me
at silk, pearls, and jade
I look, but can’t touch,
Cause my mom’s just the maid ...
Oh why can’t I dream
Just like all the kids I see
Why can’t I imagine
a better and more beautiful me?
They tell me I’m no one
This is not my house
Don’t be seen, stay away,
Be as quiet as a mouse,
They act like I’m invisible
Like I really don’t belong
Unless they want to scream at me
for doing something wrong ...
Oh why can’t I dream
Just like all the kids I see
Why can’t I imagine
a better and more beautiful me?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Dark Moment for Thailand

The media madness and the conspiracy theorists have already begun.  Blame is being assigned, bucks are being passed, and every partisan is using this old man's death to blacken the name of his political opponent.  This is all perhaps to be expected.  But all the obfuscation shouldn't obscure the fact this is perhaps the worst PR disaster that could happen to Thailand at this moment.  No one can possibly win, and no one's agenda can possibly be served.

It is a PR disaster not because of the debate over whether whether he committed the crime or not, nor because of the debate over whether what he did, if he did it, should be a crime or not.

It is a PR disaster because when you look at the "Thailand" section in any airport in the world, there are two kinds of books: books about Thai hookers, and books about Thai prisons.  The "Bangkok Hilton" and the "Bangkok Brothel" are the two best known features of this country, with politicians perhaps forming a subdivision of the brothel department.

When an old man, accused of a dubious crime, who may well have been railroaded, dies in a prison in a country with "democracy" issues, no one in the outside world is going to believe that there was nothing fishy about it.  Everyone "knows" that prisons in Thailand are exactly like in those mass market exploitation paperbooks found in every airport.  Everyone also "knows" that prisoners of conscience in "uncivilized dictatorship"-type countries do not die natural deaths.

I'm not talking, you understand, about what is "true".  I am talking about what is "known."  What people know can be very far from the truth, but it can be far more damaging than the truth.

If this is a right-wing plot to shut up an embarrassing person, it has already backfired.  It this is a left-wing plot to create a martyr, it will also backfire, because our government is going to find itself saying opposite things out of both sides of its mouth.  Indeed, it can be said that this one death has destroyed a year of carefully laying groundwork for a revisionist notion that this government, compared to the previous one, is the harbinger of freedom.   Cynicism is free to reign once more.

Let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume no conspiracies.   Let's assume that no one meant for this to happen.  That it was all just an unfortunate twist of karma.

Well, I'm afraid that imputing the best motives to everyone still doesn't let them off the hook.  Because we can't wriggle out of the fact that a court did not grant Ah Kong bail because "he may be sick, but it's not as if he's going to die." This statement is on the record.

And regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, you know this is wrong, because this isn't an affront to your political beliefs.  It's an affront to your humanity.


In the end, therefore, it must be said that we all killed Ah Kong.  Some through action, others through inaction, but most of us through indifference, fear, and apathy.

If I were this government's spin doctor, which I am not, I would seize the moment.  I would put the PM on the air and have her weep effectively and offer a completely transparent and non-partisan apology for this man's death.  After all, it is this governments paranoia over being perceived as anti-establishment that has caused it to overreact to anything that might be seen as anti-establishment.

A well nuanced apology would clear the air a little, perhaps, and it could certainly plant the seed of hope in what is otherwise an unmitigated disaster for left, right, and middle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mahler and Childhood

In ten days the Sinfonietta, the youth orchestra I founded two years ago, will do a very daring thing — it will play its first Mahler symphony.  It's daring because no group of 12-23-year-olds in this country has ever attempted such a feat - the closest was the Silpakorn Music Camp's recent performance of Mahler's First, but that was a performance by kids and faculty, with the section leaders all being reliable professionals including a former concertmaster of the London Philharmonic.

There will only be two "seasoned professionals" in this performance: myself and Nancy Yuen, one of Asia's leading sopranos, who will sing the solo in the final movement, which represents a child's vision of heaven.

Mahlerians always say that Mahler's Fourth Symphony is "about childhood", but I think that when people hear that it evokes idyllic and pastoral images ... sort of like a Ray Bradbury short story, or like the blandishments of Coal Miner's Daughter — "We were poor but we had love" and all that.

Such visions may sustain a short story or a song, but an entire symphony must dig deeper into the raw material, because a symphony more like a novel than a short story; it is a journey you must take, with characters you must empathize and identify with, that must lead to some of resolution and denouement.

I've been talking to the kids a lot about this raw material because you cannot really play this music without understanding the nature of the journey.  When I play a classical work with them, I can talk about tonal relationships, about harmonic tension, and so on.  Of course, I can and do talk about those things in Mahler, but one can't get away from Mahler himself or from the autobiographical view of art.

This "child's-eye-view" of the universe in Mahler's Fourth Symphony is neither simple nor innocent.  It's reality and fantasy, seen through the eyes of excessively bright child who doesn't miss a thing, and who never looks away, no matter how great the anguish.

Children believe themselves to be immortal, but even in this most pastoral of Mahler's symphonies death lurks in every corner.  Of Mahler's many siblings, six died when they were children.  You must imagine the pub where Mahler grew up.  The town of Jihlava (or Iglau as it was then called) was a Sprachinsel, a German-speaking island in a Czech-speaking ocean.  Mahler's house, too, was a Sprachinsel, because the language of the house was mammeloschen — Yiddish.  So an island inside an island then, and from this island, every so often, emerges the coffin of a small child ... as drunken soldiers party in the beer hall. This is Gustl's childhood — one in which the solemnity of death, with its muffled drumbeat funeral marches, plays out against the background of crazed klezmer music.

It was a home in which Mahler's father abused his mother and slept with the help ... a home from which the boy would sometimes flee in tears, only to run into the raucous blare of a military band or an organ grinder churning out a folk tune.

Next to this cacophonous world stood a forest, and it was in this forest that Mahler discovered a silence so profound that it seemed to contain within it the moment before creation.    It is out of this silence that the First Symphony begins.  It's from this silence that the eight horns of the Third Symphony burst, with a roar that is like the Big Bang itself.  It is into this silence that the Ninth Symphony dissolves as Mahler finally comes to terms with what St. Francis called "our sister, bodily death."

Mahler's childhood world then is no utopia.  It's a world where beauty and terror dwell side by side.  These are fairy tales where people really die.  In one song, a boy faces the hangman, not knowing why.  In another — the song that closes this symphony — a child dreams about what heaven must be like, and it's all about food.  But it's not just a soothing manna raining down; to feed the angels, King Herod stands ready to slaughter the lambs.   Irony runs through even this, the most ostensibly naive of Mahler's works.

So ... though this symphony is "about" being a child ... it is far from being a "childish" work.  In fact, one wonders whether the young can really comprehend its complexities and its richness.  Yet I think it is very important for young people to have a go at these multi-layered masterpieces.  If indeed it takes a lifetime to understand any work of genius, then it's never too young to start trying to understand it.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Watch the Whole Concert - Mahler Six


I’m trying this out for the first time ... the idea of posting entire concerts on youtube.


So many of my blog readers made this concert possible without the chance to actually come to it — not all my readers live anywhere Bangkok, let alone Asia.  


So this is the next best thing ... enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feet of Clay


Today there is a huge celebration of the hundredth anniversary of M.R. Kukrit Pramoj, one of Thailand's most gifted and famous artists, to which (for reasons that may become apparent in the course of this blog) I haven't been invited.  This is a pity, because I would be one of the first to recognize that Kukrit's genius was unique.

However, I have not in the past, nor would I now, attempt to whitewash those aspects of Kukrit's career as a novelist which stand in the way of his achieving true international stature.

I'm referring of course to Kukrit's propensity to imitate the actions of a hermit crab or cuckoo: that is, to build his novelistic structures inside someone else's home.  Until aficionados of Kukrit's work are able to face up to, digest and come to terms with Kukrit's blatant plagiarisms of internationally known literary works, they will never fully appreciate Kukrit's true talent — which was to employ an uncanny and boundless linguistic invention and creativity to create out of these borrowed structures material that was uniquely his own, and uniquely Thai.  To accept one's idol's feet of clay is not to deny that the head and the heart may be of pure gold.

As long as Thailand was a relatively closed society, and as long as Thai literature was something designed to be enjoyed only by Thais, one could ignore the occasional barb from an outsider who, after all, by definition, "didn't understand Thailand."  When it was mentioned by some that the Don Camillo series was lifted wholesale into Kukrit's Phai Daeng tales, people simply said "So what?"  Indeed, when I read Kukrit's novel Kawao ti Bangphleng and realized it was an almost scene-by-scene adaptation of John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos, a book every English schoolboy of my generation was forced to read, "So what?" was also my own reaction.  Everyone knew that M.R. Kukrit was less than upfront about his sources, and everyone knew that he was a great writer of the Thai language, so what difference would it really make?

Alas, in the 90s Thailand was no longer — and is no longer — a "relatively closed society."  What we do is seen everywhere and the Thai language is no longer the secret language of an obscure minority, but studied by professors in major universities around the world.  It is even possible to do Thai at A level in my old school, Eton.

Therefore, when I bumped into Khun Jareuk Kaljaruek, CEO of one of Thailand's most important film studios, in Hollywood, and he told me he was making the most expensive Thai sci-fi flick of all time, having acquired the rights to Kukrit's novel, for the first time I was forced to take him aside and say, "Before you release this film worldwide, there's something I should tell you."

The Midwich Cuckoos had been filmed three times at that point: as Village of the Damned, as the sequel Children of the Damned, and as a new remake by John Carpenter which was being released that very same year.   It's not just some obscure junky paperback — though it might have seemed that way to someone unaware of the history of science fiction.  It is and was one of the seminal works of the genre.  In addition, the original screenwriter of Village of the Damned, Stirling Silliphant, was at that time the most highly paid screenwriter in the world, and in the nineties he happened to be living in Thailand.  Stirling was asked by Caravan, a leading Thai magazine, to write an article about the forthcoming sci-fi flick.  Only then did he discover that the movie he was to write about was, in essence, his own.  (The magazine decided that I, as an ex-patriate Thai living in Hollywood who wouldn't ever return to Thailand to face the scandal, would have to write the article — and offered me danger money to do so.)

This was definitely a major crack in the forcefield that shielded Thailand from "the real world".

Well ... despite all this, I came back to Thailand ... and the truth about these novels hasn't dented Kukrit's reputation in Thailand one bit.  Now that the grand old man is celebrating his 100th birthday, it might be time to examine the cultural context of it all.

The major creations Kukrit's auctorial career happened in another time — one far removed from today's hyperconnected world.  In the culture of Thailand we were emerging from a world in which artists were not considered societal icons who illuminate the human condition and hold the mirror up to society.  They were, in fact, as were European artists in the eighteenth century, servants.

At the beginning of the last century, no one thought anything of it if a composer or poet published a work anonymously or even under the name of some important patron, such as a royal or an important aristocrat.  Indeed, schoolchildren in Thailand even today learn that certain major works were written by various early monarchs, when this was never understood to be the case at the time.   The ascription of someone else's name to a work of art was not considered particularly demeaning because that art was created in the service of those noble individuals.

By the same token, literary works from other cultures were frequently recomposed in the Thai language and are now viewed as wholly Thai — works such as the Ramayana, the central epic poem in Thailand's cultural tradition.

Kukrit therefore grew up in a cultural context in which an author's proprietorship was not clearly demarcated as it is today — neither legally nor conceptually.  In a sense, he was just going what everyone else did — the only difference being that he happened to possess genius, and therefore what he did is remembered.

Indeed, all great art has sources.  Shakespeare's plays drew on Hollinshed.  Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness has provided a structural framework for countless pieces of fiction (including one of my own) as well as movies like Apocalypse Now.  Jane Austen's Emma was hilariously recreated in contemporary L.A. in the movie Clueless.  You might ask, therefore, in response to the Kukrit problem "So what?"

To dismiss these borrowings as homages is one solution to the Kukrit problem.  But there remains the fact that M.R. Kukrit stated at the time that when he wrote The Cuckoos of Bangphleng, he wrote it simply as the inspiration came and had no idea how the story was going to turn out from day to day (it was first serialized in a Thai newspaper.)  He made this statement even though the derivation of the work is embarrassingly obvious — he didn't even disguise the title.  Instead of saying, "I'm going to pay tribute to this seminal novel by creating a Thai version of the story" he acted as if John Wyndham's novel didn't exist.

Why didn't he simply say it?  His brilliant writing, his astute observations of Thai village life, and the cleverness of the adaptation would have been enough to merit praise for the novel without having to pretend that the idea was original.  And yet something prevented M.R. Kukrit from making this statement.  Was it vanity?  But no one disputes Kukrit's position as a foremost figure of Thai letters.  I believe in fact that Kukrit would have received more kudos for stating that he intended to serve as a bridge between western culture and Thai literature.

I cannot really fathom this.  My mother's novel, Mongkut Dok Som, was inspired by a novel by Chinese novelist Su Tong, and in her introduction to the published edition, she clearly says so.  No one has ever said she was any less of a novelist for saying so — and indeed she went on to prove her own plotting skills by creating a sequel that owes nothing to Su Tong at all.

In fact, artists do not exist in vacuums.  All works have sources.  Yet it seems that in these instances, M.R. Kukrit wanted to be in a vacuum.  He wanted to be enshrined in solitary splendor and he was amply protected from a lawsuit by the Wyndham estate by the inaccessibility of the Thai language.   It is, in the end, probably only about ego.  And ultimately, it shows a disdain for one's readership that is disturbing, and threatens to overshadow the magnitude of his achievements.

When I was a child, my mother used to read Si Phaendin to me every night and it was from Kukrit's writings that I became connected to Thailand's cultural past.  I think it is fair to say that I wouldn't be who I am today without the influence of his writings.

But in order to completely understand the person, and the writer, one must also face the darkness in that writer, that person, and come to terms with it.

Every great artist I know of has harbored darknesses within.  Wagner was a hideous human being and yet in his art, he showed an incredible understanding of the human condition.  Venality, sexual perversion, terrorism — you name it, some great artist has done it.  They are human beings.  We should celebrate that.

To realize that Kukrit's was a flawed genius does not in any way denigrate that genius.  Let's stop ignoring the elephant in the room, acknowledge its presence, and free ourselves to appreciate this artist for what he was.

I've noticed that the Wikipedia article on Kukrit does in fact acknowledge the actual source of several of his novels.  Nevertheless, at the time that I wrote my article for Caravan, the revelation about John Wyndham came as a complete surprise to many people.  I guess the dust has settled somewhat now that the Master has gone on to his next incarnation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coffin Up....

The Seven Things The Public Has Shown the Most Interest in about my Forthcoming Performance of Mahler's Sixth Symphony
(Thursday at 8 pm, Mahisorn Hall - Don't miss it!) - in Descending Order....

***

scene from the Ken Russell movie "Mahler"


1. I'm using a coffin to receive the hammer blows of fate.
2. Because Thai musicians are superstitious, it will be a fake coffin.
3. The coffin isn't full-size because the first hammer-blow is said to represent the death of Mahler's daughter.
4. I used social networks to raise the money for the concert, but social networks are not being used to pay for the fake coffin.
5. Alma, the subject of the incredibly passionate love theme, screwed other men, though not (unlike in the movie Mahler) while Mahler was being buried alive in a coffin with a window.
6. The conductor is working on a musical version of "Dok Som Si Thong", which contains no coffins.
7. Mahler?  Who's he?


***


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Quick Mahler Update


The Mahler appeal seems to have slowed to a crawl at just over 200,000 baht.  Even this figure is in itself amazing, because no one's ever tried using social networks to finance classical concerts in Thailand before.  

Now, at around a week to go before the concert, we still need to raise about 2/3 of the money to put it on. And yet I no longer feel as worried as before.

The last person to donate was a friend of a friend in Switzerland, who generously sent in £1,000.   Somehow, this contribution was a turning point.   After that, our fortunes began to shift because people began contacting us to hire our orchestra for more commercial purposes and any time we do something commercial, we can impose a "Mahler tax" ... i.e. use commerce to help subsidize art.  

However it is true that contributions haven't moved in a couple of days.  I have about 8 days to go until the concert.  So, I guess this is my final all-out appeal.   Even with help coming in from taking a bit off the top of commercial gigs, I could really use another 100,000 or two!  

So, my dear friends ... if you can ... become a member of Gustav's Angels ... or at least one of the little angels.   For the next 3 days at least there is still time to get your name in the programme book.  There are many ways to do this: go to www.somtow.org or www.mahlerthai.com and click on the donation buttons (via paypal) or just send the money directly to me: Somtow Sucharitkul,  Siam Commercial Bank, 0013513547 is the account I'm using exclusively for Mahler stuff ... or by paypal to somtow@gmail.com.  I promise not to spend it all on booze.  Seriously, I'm holding most of the money in a drawer to avoid my secretary using it to pay non-Mahler expenses....

Tiny donations are important too.  I was especially moved when a friend sent me $5 which was all she had sitting around in her paypal account.  Musicians are not as well paid here as in the unionized US.  That $5 will pay for 25 minutes of one of the tutti violinists' time.  That is NOT chickenfeed.

For those who have already helped, thank you, thank you, thank you for fueling all our dreams.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thailand • Irony Piles Up

A List of Interesting Ironies

A few days ago, the University in Thailand that most prides itself on promoting free speech and democratic ideals placed a ban on a moderate, apolitical group of academics seeking an open discussion of Thailand's lèse-majesté law.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an open letter signed by several of the most blue-blooded descendants of royalty in Thailand suggesting that this law be amended.

Those currently in power, often accused by their political opponents of wanting to subvert the revered monarchical institution of this country, have turned out to be the most knee-jerk and draconian advocates of the law.

Designed with the noble purpose of protecting that which Thai people hold most dear, the law has in the last decade been used as a political stick, a rallying cry for witch-hunters, or a way of entrapping old men and teenage girls.

The King himself, the person being protected by this law, has publicly stated in completely clear words, understandable to all, that he is troubled by the way this law is applied.  Yet those who claim most stridently to be protecting him have completely failed to take the King's own thoughts into account.

I would submit that some of the loudest voices, competing to outdo each other in nationalism and royalism, are hypocrites.

The King of Thailand has never endorsed the way this law is used, yet it is always he who gets international bad press when extremists apply the law in ways that contravene basic human rights.

I would suggest that those who truly love this country, and who truly love this King who has done so much for this country, should start off by cooling their rhetoric and actually listening to what His Majesty has had to say on the issue.

I would also want to state that a strong, stable and progressive system of constitutional monarchy is in no way whatsoever inconsistent with open, rational discussion of that system.  Indeed, such discussion makes the system stronger.

Democracy and Monarchy are not opposites.  If that were so, why is Great Britain so successful a monarchy, and so successful a democracy?

I believe that the sharp turn towards a muzzled society, which began in the Thaksin era but which was not repaired by any subsequent government, cannot disguise the fact that Thailand's spirit is essentially a free spirit.

The best that is in the Thai people, including the love of freedom, is embodied in the person and the institution that Thais cherish the most.

I urge those in power not to desecrate that institution while loudly proclaiming to be protecting it.  The people of Thailand are not idiots.





Social Networks, Coffins, and Mahler


NEWS FROM BANGKOK OPERA FOUNDATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAHLER - WITH SOCIAL NETWORKS AND COFFINS
Opera Siam’s London tour of Somtow Sucharitkul’s Mae Naak in September was a huge artistic success — and a financial nightmare, perching the ten-year-old maverick opera company at the edge of the abyss.  Undeterred by the setback and encouraged by a legion of friends and enthusiasts who flocked to lend support, Somtow launched a social network campaign through blogging and facebook to finance the continuation of his acclaimed Mahler Cycle, which has garnered international praise.  His goal is to sign 100 “Gustav’s Angels” - those who contribute 5,000 baht or more towards the performances ... but he’s added the category of “Engelein” or “Little Angels” to enable people to contribute any lesser amount as well.

“Mahler is a composer who brings out strong emotions, wellsprings of passion,” said Somtow.  “It was reckless to announce the continuation of the cycle in our precarious position, and yet this symphony, No. 6, of all Mahler’s symphonies, is a perfect symbol of the human spirit struggling against ultimate despair.”  Two weeks ago, Somtow had only a concert announcement and faith.  Today the concert is already a quarter of the way towards paying for itself and contributions have poured in through the donation buttons set up on his blogsite, www.somtow.org, from over a dozen countries.  “I was particular moved to receive $5 and $10 contributions from fans and friends in countries like the USA, where the contributors had no chance to come to the concert itself, yet wanted to share in this incredible dream to let us play the complete Mahler symphonies by the year 2014,” Somtow said.

The cost of putting on a Mahler symphony using the very best musicians in the country is only one-seventh of doing such a concert in Europe, Somtow adds.  

The Siam Philharmonic is already half-way through the cycle of ten Mahler symphonies.    But the Sixth is a very special case.  Considered by many to be Mahler’s greatest, it has been nicknamed “The Tragic” - though not by Mahler.  It was the favorite Mahler Symphony of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, to whom Somtow once made the promise that one day Thai musicians would play all the symphonies.


Somtow’s pioneering work in Mahler has had in the past the support of the Austrian Embassy and the International Mahler Society, whose representative, Stan Gayuski, presented him with a baton used by Leonard Bernstein to conduct Mahler’s Ninth Symphony when Somtow performed the Thai premiere of that work in February.  Of that performance, Singapore critic Adrian Tan said, “Maestro Sucharitkul’s reading was deeply intimate, in a manner perhaps only possible by a fellow composer, with every phrase shaped with care, true understanding and clearly intended to communicate and not to impress. His strong personal connection to this music can be felt, especially in the last movement - his commitment to his musicians on stage that charged them to play at a level of music-making well beyond what they were used to was an inspiration and a true joy to behold.”  Bruce Gaston called the concert “the best classical music event in Thailand in the entire forty years I have lived here.”

Two controversial elements in the symphony are the order of the movements and the “hammer-blows of fate” written into the score.  Mahler specified a big but wooden sound for these blows and people have been arguing about how to play them ever since.  Somtow’s solution is probably a first  “I want to use a coffin lined with gravel,” he said.  “The coffin adds a visual element to the symbolism of the hammer blows ... and happens to be just the right size and shape.”  The use of a coffin as a percussion instrument may well be a musical first.

No one can agree whether the two inner movements should be played Scherzo-Andante or Andante-Scherzo.  “One thing is clear,” Somtow says, “the two sequences create completely different symphonies.”  He says he will probably only decide on the day what order to play the movements in.

The Siam Philharmonic’s Mahler Six, with guest concertmaster Vilmos Olah from Hungary, plays Thursday, February 16 at the Mahisorn Hall at 8 pm.  The hall is located in SCB Park Plaza, Ratchayothin Road.  For more information, go to http://www.thaiticketmajor.com/concert/concert-detail-en.php?sid=1142 or to http://www.operasiam.net.  Tickets can be obtained from Thai Ticket Major outlets or their website, www.thaiticketmajor.com.

What will happen if Somtow doesn’t raise enough funding to cover this concert?  “I guess I’ll just go further into debt,” said the maestro ruefully.  “On the other hand, you only live once.”
 Date: February 16, 2012
Place and Time: Mahisorn Hall, Ratchayothin Rd, 8 pm
Tickets: Thai ticketmajor outlets (02) 262-3456, www.thaiticketmajor.com
Bangkok Opera Foundation (02) 231-5273, tickets@bangkokopera.com

ข่าวสารงานคลาสสิคจากมูลนิธิมหาอุปรากรกรุงเทพ
มาห์เล่อร์ – โซเชียลเนตเวิร์คกับโลงผี
แม่นากทัวร์ลอนดอนของสมเถา สุจริตกุล เมื่อกันยายนปีก่อนประสบความสำเร็จอย่างเยี่ยมยอดในแง่ศิลปะ ขณะเดียวกันก็เป็นฝันร้ายในแง่ทุนทรัพย์สำหรับคณะมหาอุปรากรที่ผ่านร้อนหนาวมานานถึง 10 ปี  แต่ด้วยใจยังสู้  สมเถาเปิดแคมเปญในโซเชี่ยลเนตเวิร์คผ่านบล็อกและเฟสบุคประกาศขอรับบริจาคทุนสนับสนุนเพื่อความต่อเนื่องของการนำเสนอซิมโฟนีมาห์เล่อร์ครบวงจรซึ่งได้รับการยกย่องในระดับนานาชาติ เป้าหมายของเขาคือหา เทวทูตกุสตาฟ’ 100 คนเป็นผู้อุปถัมภ์รายการโดยบริจาคทุนทรัพย์สนับสนุนการผลิตรายละ 5,000 บาท หรือกว่านั้น  และในปีนี้สมเถาได้ขยายระดับเทวทูตโดยรวม เทวทูตน้อยสำหรับผู้ประสงค์จะบริจาคน้อยกว่านั้น
“มาห์เล่อร์เป็นคีตกวีที่สามารถแสดงออกซึ่งอารมณ์อย่างรุนแรง ไม่ว่าจะเป็นความรัก ความหลง หรือกิเลสของมนุษย์”  สมเถากล่าว  “ผมไม่ควรพูดถึงความต่อเนื่องของวงจรมาห์เล่อร์ในสถานะการณ์ที่น่าเป็นห่วง  แต่กระนั้น... ในบรรดาซิมโฟนีทั้งหมดของมาห์เล่อร์  ซิมโฟนีบทนี้... หมายเลข 6... เป็นสัญลักษณ์ที่งดงามสมบูรณ์แบบแห่งการดิ้นรนต่อสู้กับความหมดสิ้นซึ่งความหวัง”   เมื่อสองสัปดาห์ก่อน สมเถาประกาศการแสดงด้วยแรงศรัทธา  ทุนสนับสนุนหลั่งไหลมาจากทั้งในและนอกประเทศผ่านบล๊อก www.somtow.org  ณ วันนี้จำนวนเงินสนับสนุนที่ได้รับมีประมาณหนึ่งส่วนสี่ของทุนการผลิต  “ผมรู้สึกซาบซึ้งมากที่เพื่อนๆ และแฟนคลับบริจาคแม้เพียง 5 หรือ 10 เหรียญจากต่างประเทศเช่นสหรัฐฯ  พวกเขาไม่มีโอกาสมาฟังแต่ก็ยินดีที่จะช่วยสานฝันให้เราได้แสดงซิมโฟนีของมาห์เล่อร์ครบทุกบทภายในปี 2557”
สมเถากล่าวต่อไปว่า ค่าใช้จ่ายในการนำเสนอซิมโฟนีมาห์เล่อร์โดยนักดนตรีที่ดีที่สุดของประเทศใช้ทุนทรัพย์เพียงหนึ่งส่วนเจ็ดของงานเดียวกันในยุโรป
สยามฟิลฮาร์โมนิคได้ก้าวมาถึงครึ่งทางของ วงจรมาห์เลอร์ แล้ว แต่หมายเลข  6 เป็นสุดยอดของความวิเศษในบรรดาซิมโฟนีทั้งหมดของมาห์เล่อร์  เห็นได้จากชื่อเล่นว่า The Tragic – ซึ่งมาห์เล่อร์ไม่ได้ตั้งขึ้นเอง  นอกจากนั้น ซิมโฟนีหมายเลข 6 ยังเป็นผลงานที่โปรดที่สุดของสมเด็จพระเจ้าพี่นางเธอฯ เจ้าฟ้ากัลยาณิวัฒนา กรมหลวงนราธิวาสราชนคริทร์ ซึ่งสมเถาได้ถวายสัตย์ว่านักดนตรีไทยจะบรรเลงซิมโฟนีทุกบทของมาห์เล่อร์ในวันหนึ่ง
สมเถาบุกเบิกผลงานของมาห์เล่อร์ด้วยความร่วมมือของสถานเอกอัครรารชทูตออสเตรียประจำประเทศไทย และสมาคมมาห์เล่อร์นานาชาติ  ผู้แทนสมาคมฯ นายสแตน กายุสกี้ ได้มอบบาตองที่ลีโอนาร์ด เบิร์นชไตน์ ผู้ล่วงลับไปแล้ว ใช้อำนวยเพลงซิมโฟนีเดียวกันนี้เป็นครั้งสุดท้ายในชีวิตวาทยกร ให้สมเถาใช้อำนวยเพลงในการบรรเลงมาห์เล่อร์หมายเลข 9  ซึ่งนักวิจารณ์ดนตรีจากสิงคโปร์ได้กล่าวชมเชยว่า “ไมสโตรสมเถาเข้าถึงผลงานอย่างลึกซึ้งในฐานะคีตกวีด้วยกัน  เขาหล่อหลอมแต่ละวลีอย่างระมัดระวังและด้วยความเข้าใจอย่างแท้จริง  จึงเห็นได้อย่างชัดเจนว่าจงใจสื่อและไม่ใช่เพื่อสร้างความประทับใจ  ความผูกพันส่วนตัวที่สมเถามีต่อดนตรีแรงกล้าจนผู้ฟังรู้สึกได้โดยเฉพาะในกระบวนสุดท้าย – ความรับผิดชอบที่มีต่อนักดนตรีทำให้พวกเขาสามารถเล่นได้ในระดับดีเด่นกว่าที่เคย นับเป็นบุญหูอย่างยิ่งของผู้ฟัง”  บรูซ แกสตัน เรียกการบรรเลงครั้งนั้นว่า “เป็นดนตรีคลาสสิคที่ยอดเยี่ยมที่สุดในประเทศไทยตลอดเวลา 40 ปีที่ผมใช้ชีวิตที่นี่”
องค์ประกอบที่ขัดกันของซิมโฟนีหมายเลข 6 ได้แก่การลำดับกระบวน กับ เสียงฆ้อนแห่งโชคชตา ในโน้ตดนตรี   มาห์เล่อร์กำหนดให้มีเสียงไม้ขนาดใหญ่ฟาดลงมา  มีหลายคนถกเถียงกันว่าจะเล่นอย่างไร  ทางออกของสมเถาซึ่งออกจะแหวกแนวคือ  “ผมอยากใช้โลงศพ รองก้นด้วยก้อนกรวด  โลงผีจะช่วยให้มองเห็นองค์ประกอบอันเป็นสัญลักษณ์ของฆ้อน... ซึ่งเหมาะทั้งขนาดและรูปทรง”  อาจจะเป็นครั้งแรกก็ได้ที่มีการใช้โลงศพแทนเครื่องเคาะจังหวะ
ไม่มีใครมีความเห็นตรงกันเลยว่าอีก 2 กระบวนควรจะบรรเลงในรูปแบบ Scherzo-Andente หรือ Andante-Scherzo  “ที่เห็นชัดๆ อย่างหนึ่งก็คือ”  สมเถากล่าว  “สองกระบวนที่ต่อเนื่องเป็นซิมโฟนีที่แตกต่างกันโดยสิ้นเชิง”  สมเถาจะตัดสินว่าจะเล่นกระบวนไหนก่อนในวันแสดงจริง
การบรรเลงมาห์เล่อร์ 6 โดยสยามฟิลฮาร์โมนิค กับคอนเสิร์ตมาสเตอร์รับเชิญจากประเทศฮังการี วิลโมส โอลาห์ และอำนวยเพลงโดย สมเถา สุจริตกุล เปิดแสดงในวันพฤหัสที่ 16 กุมภาพันธ์ 2555 ที่ห้องประชุมมหิศร เอส.ซี.บี. ปาร์คพลาซ่า รัชโยธิน  หากท่านต้องการข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม โปรดเปิดเวบไซต์ http://www.thaiticketmajor.com/concert-detail-en.php?sid=1142 หรือ http://operasiam.net
สำรองบัตรได้ที่ไทยทิคเก็ตเมเจอร์ทุกสาขา หรือทางเวบไซต์ thaiticketmajor.com
อะไรจะเกิดขึ้นถ้าสมเถาหาเงินได้ไม่พอค่าทำคอนเสิร์ต  “ผมก็...  คงต้องก่อหนี้ต่อไป”  ไมสโตรสมเถากล่าวเศร้าๆ  “แต่จะว่าไปแล้ว...  ชีวิตเราก็แค่เนี้ยะ...”
วันแสดง พฤหัสที่ 16 กุมภาพันธ์ 2555
ที่ไหน เวลาอะไร  ห้องประชุมมหิศร เวลา 20.00 น.
บัตรมีจำหน่ายที่ไทยทิคเก็ตเมเจอร์ (02) 262-3456 www.thaiticketmajor.com และ

มูลนิธิมหาอุปรากรกรุงเทพ (02) 231-5273, (089) 136-9981, (086) 749-9559 tickets@bangkokopera.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

Climb Every Mahler.... (now in Thai and English)



The following is (more or less) a note I put on my facebook account about four hours ago.  Even in a few hours, the response has been heartwarming ... enough to thaw my depression out quite a bit.  Now I am asking the readers of my blog the same questions ... on a regular day dozens of people read this blog, and when I touch a controversial subject, it leaps to thousands ... can this outreach translate into something beautiful and powerful ... like a Mahler symphony?

As all of you know, Mahler is one of my lifelong obsessions.  And so it was that, before the dawn of the 21st century, around the year 1998, I made a promise to the late HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, shortly after the Thai premiere of my "Mahajanaka Symphony", that one day Thailand's musicians would be able to play all of the Mahler symphonies.  To make this happen I had to found a whole new orchestra, the Siam Philharmonic, which has gone through an incredible rollercoaster of an existence.  The twin climaxes of the orchestra's existence, I think, were first when we did Mahler 9 together and Stan Gayuski, a member of the NY chapter of the Mahler Society, told me I could keep Leonard Bernstein's baton which had been last used to conduct the same work.  The second climax was when the orchestra performed my music in London and for the first time our classical musicians were viewed in Europe not as curiousities, but as peers.  The orchestra played absolutely brilliantly in London, under awful circumstances.

The London tour was an artistic triumph, but a nightmare in almost every other way and as a result of it our foundation's deficit has skyrocketed, I've been in a depression for about four months, and there is a moratorium on opera production until we can pay down the deficit.  I am also personally in very bad shape after having to do things like put three days of an entire orchestra's London hotel bill on my own credit cards.

And yet, I simply cannot stand by and watch the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra, which has achieved so much whilst running on fumes over the last ten years, stagnate and stall.  This is why, trusting on faith alone, I have decided to put the Mahler program back into action.  Mahler is what the SPO does best - it's what it's known for - and we are already exactly halfway through the Mahler canon, having already performed Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9, many of these performances to amazing reviews.

I'm going to bring back the SPO with one of the greatest of all symphonies, Mahler's Sixth, about which Alban Berg once said "It is the ONLY Sixth - even considering the Pastoral."  It was also HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana's favorite Mahler symphony.

The Siam Commercial Bank is generously providing the venue for this performance for free on February 16th.  But I must find the wherewithal to pay the orchestra.

The Bangkok Opera Foundation itself needs every baht it can raise for important projects and to lower its deficit.  The Mahler project is my personal labor of love: my love for Mahler and my love for the princess, who made classical music in Thailand possible.  Therefore I, not the foundation, must be responsible for it.  I am keeping a drawer of cash in the house and paying for the Mahler Project out of this drawer.  

I've been asking some of my friends to sign up, or upgrade, their memberships in "Gustav's Angels," the small group of friends whose contributions keep the Mahler project afloat.  They all donate 5,000 baht at a time, rising up the nine rungs of angels until they reach the status of Cherubim and have sponsored nine symphonies.  If I had 100 such people, I could fund the entire project.  So far four people have pledged to up their memberships: Karen Schur-Narula, Raksak Kananurak, Michael Proudfoot, and my mother.  96 more angels or angel upgrades will get us past Mahler 6.  

But it's also true that if every single one of you facebook friends and followers of my S.P. Somtow page were to give me a mere $20, I could fund the entire rest of the Mahler Project.   Ditto, if only 20% gave me $100.  Or if 10% gave me $200.  I think the picture is clear.  If everyone who read this blog on one of the "days of controversy" gave me $1, I could put on an entire symphony.

It's time for me to find out whether having thousands of facebook friends - and thousands of readers of my blog - means something in terms of being able to realize one's dreams.  Will I be able to find support among the people out there, between the true friends, the stalkers, and the simply curious - enough to support something beautiful which makes the world in some measure a more beautiful place?

This isn't exactly like Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  If my facebook friends and blog readers don't come through — if I don't find "ten righteous men" — I am not going to rain down brimstone and viruses on your accounts.   It is however a bit of a test of whether "facebook friends" or "followers" are really a meaningful thing.  

Well, if after reading this note you are moved to become an angel, you can just click on the links right on this page.  Gustav's Angels have special perks; VIP seating, and this time around we're giving away free CDs of some of SPO's previous Mahler performances.   If you want to give a lesser amount, you can as well.

Furthermore - in Thailand, bank transfers are usually more popular ... so, Somtow Sucharitkul,  Siam Commercial Bank, 0013513547 is the account.  This is an account I'm only using for the Mahler staff.  I don't want the Bangkok Opera to accidentally spend the money on other things so I will hold it until the last minute.

 If you do decide to help, do leave a comment (death threats or abuse won't be approved of course) ...  so we can all see the power of the net at work.  Your name will be in the program book of course, if it arrives in time.

In a few hours on facebook I raised enough to pay for 2 violinists.  I still have a month, and despite the vicissitudes I've been through I still believe in the redeeming power of music.

For those not able to come to the concert, I will post the entire thing so you will have a ringside seat.

Thanks to all of you.

And also, feel free to share this post with friends and music lovers.



ผมได้โพสต์ข้อมูลนี้เป็นภาษาอังกฤษใน face book เมื่อไม่กี่ชั่วโมงมานี้และได้รับการตอบสนองอย่างอบอุ่นซึ่งทำให้ผมคลายกังวลเป็นอย่างมาก  ผมจึงขอโพสต์ข้อความเดียวกันเป็นภาษาไทยในบล๊อกของผมซึ่งตามปรกติมีผู้เข้ามาดูไม่กี่สิบคน ยกเว้นเวลาที่ผมมีเรื่องที่ต้องตอบโต้หรือแสดงความเห็น  จึงมีผู้เข้ามาเป็นพันๆ
ข้อมูลของผมจะกลายเป็นความงดงามอันทรงพลังเช่นเดียวกับมาห์เล่อร์หรือไม่ขึ้นอยู่ที่คุณ...
ใครๆ ก็รู้ว่าผมคลั่งมาห์เล่อร์มาตลอดชีวิต  เพราะฉะนั้น  เมื่อต้นศตรรษที่ 21 ประมาณปี 2541 หลังจากได้มีการนำเสนอซิมโฟนีพระมหาชนกซึ่งผมแต่งขึ้นเพื่อเฉลิมพระเกียรติพระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว  ผมได้ทูลเกล้าถวายคำมั่นแด่สมเด็จพระเจ้าพี่นางเธอ เจ้าฟ้ากัลยาณิวัฒนา กรมหลวงนราธิวาสราชนครินทร์ ว่า นักดนตรีไทยจะสามารถเล่นซิมโฟนีทุกเพลงของมาห์เล่อร์ได้ในวันหนึ่ง  เพื่อให้ฝันกลายเป็นจริง ผมจึงก่อตั้งสยามฟิลฮาร์โมนิค ออร์เคสตร้าขึ้น  วงดุริยางค์ของเราผ่านร้อนหนาวมาพอสมควร  ความสำเร็จขั้นสุดยอดครั้งแรกเกิดขึ้นเมื่อเรานำเสนอซิมโฟนีหมายเลข 9 ของมาห์เล่อร์  สแตน กายุสกี้ ผู้แทนสมาคมมาห์เล่อร์นานาชาติซึ่งเดินทางมาชมจากนครนิวยอร์คให้ผมอำนวยเพลงด้วยบาตองกายสิทธิ์ที่วาทยกรผู้ยิ่งใหญ่ ลีโอนาร์ด เบิร์นชไตน์ ผู้ล่วงลับไปแล้ว ใช้อำนวยเพลงซิมโฟนีเดียวกันนี้เป็นครั้งสุดท้ายในชีวิตวาทยกร และในที่สุดได้มอบให้ผมเป็นกรรมสิทธิ์ซึ่งผมสัญญาจะเก็บรักษาไว้สำหรับวาทยกรที่เหมาะสมในอนาคต  ความสำเร็จครั้งที่สองคือวงออร์เคสตร้าของเราได้เดินทางไปบรรเลงผลงานของผม ณ กรุงลอนดอน  ซึ่งนับเป็นครั้งแรกที่นักดนตรีคลาสสิคไทยได้รับการยอมรับในยุโรปในด้านความสามารถในมาตรฐานโลก
แม้หนทางของเราจะไม่ราบรื่นเสมอไป  แต่ผมทนไม่ได้ที่จะเห็นความมานะพยายามของเราต้องสดุดหยุดลง  โดยเฉพาะในขณะที่เราเดินหน้าไปแล้วถึงครึ่งทางในการนำเสนอมาห์เล่อร์ครบวงจรตามที่ผมตั้งปณิธานไว้   การบรรเลงซิมโฟนีหมายเลขสาม สี่ ห้า เจ็ด และเก้า ได้รับการวิพากวิจารณ์อย่างเต็มภาคภูมิ  ผมจึงจะนำสยามฟิลฮาร์โมนิคมาพบท่านอีกครั้งด้วยผลงานอลังการที่สุดในบรรดาซิมโฟนีทั้งหมดของมาห์เล่อร์  ซิมโฟนีหมายเลข 6 ซึ่งเป็นเพลงที่สมเด็จกรมหลวงโปรดที่สุด  ในวันที่ 16 กุมภาพันธ์ 2555 โดยธนาคารไทยพาณิชย์จำกัด มหาชน เอื้อเฟื้อให้ใช้ห้องประชุมมหิศรเป็นสถานที่แสดงโดยไม่คิดค่าใช้จ่าย
มูลนิธิมหาอุปรากรกรุงเทพ ซึ่งเป็นองค์กรเพื่อการศึกษาโดยไม่แสวงหาผลประโยชน์ จำเป็นต้องหาทุนทรัพย์เพื่อจัดทำกิจกรรมตามเจตนารมรณ์ในการปลูกฝังให้ประชาชนคนไทยโดยเฉพาะเยาวชนเข้าถึงสังคีตศิลป์และวัฒนธรรมในระดับนานาอารยะประเทศ  แต่มาห์เล่อร์เป็นโครงการส่วนตัวที่ผมรัก  เป็นความรักของผมที่มีต่อมาห์เล่อร์  ความรักและเทิดทูนบูชาที่ผมทูลเกล้าถวายสมเด็จกรมหลวงฯ ผู้ทรงเป็นพระมารดาแห่งดนตรีคลาสสิคในประเทศไทย  เพราะฉะนั้น ผู้ที่รับผิดชอบโครงการนี้คือ ผม นายสมเถา สุจริตกุล ไม่ใช่มูลนิธิฯ  ผมจึงมีกล่องรับบริจาคทุนการผลิตมาห์เล่อร์ไว้ที่บ้าน  ค่าใช้จ่ายทั้งหมดของโครงการมาห์เล่อร์จะมาจากกล่องนี้
ผมได้ขอร้องให้เพื่อนๆ ลงนามรับเป็นผู้สนับสนุน หรือยกระดับสมาชิก เทวทูตกุสตาฟ ซึ่งเป็นมิตรสหายกลุ่มเล็กที่สละทุนทรัพย์สนับสนุนโครงการนี้มาโดยตลอด เทวทูตของเรามี 9 ระดับตามตำนานดั้งเดิม เริ่มจากขั้นแรกสนับสนุน 5,000 บาท และจนถึงผู้สนับสนุนระดับ Cherubim สูงสุดสนับสนุนซิมโฟนีครบ 9 ครั้ง
จริงอยู่ที่เพื่อนในเฟซบุคและผู้ติดตามบล็อกของผมบางคนสนับสนุนเพียง 20 ดอลล่าร์  ประมาณ 20 % ให้ 100 ดอลล่าร์  10 % ให้ 200 ดอลล่าร์  แสดงว่าถ้าทุกคนที่เข้ามาอ่านบล็อกของผมในวันที่มีเรื่องสำคัญๆ สนับสนุนเพียงรายละ 1 ดอลล่าร์  มาห์เล่อร์ 6 ก็จะไปได้อย่างสวยงาม  ถึงเวลาแล้วที่ผมจะทดสอบว่าเพื่อนเฟสบุคจำนวนพันๆ และผู้อ่านบล็อกผมอีกจำนวนเท่าๆ กันมีความหมายในการช่วยให้ฝันของผมกลายเป็นจริง  ผมจะพึ่งใครได้บ้าง...  ในบรรดาเพื่อนแท้ ผู้แวะมาเยือน และผู้ที่เพียงแต่อยากรู้  จะมีใครบ้างช่วยเกื้อหนุนในการสร้างสรรให้โลกของเราสวยงามยิ่งขึ้น  โปรดอย่าคิดว่าถ้าไม่สนับสนุน ผมจะตัดคุณออกจากเพื่อนหรือบล็อก  ผมเพียงแต่ต้องการทราบความหมายที่แท้จริงของเพื่อนเฟสบุ๊คและผู้ติดตามบล็อกของผมเท่านั้น
หากคุณอ่านแล้วเกิดความซาบซึ้งอยากเป็นเทวทูต  โปรดคลิกลิ้งค์ด้านขวาของหน้านี้   เทวทูตกุสตาฟได้รับสิทธิพิเศษ ที่นั่ง วี.ไอ.พี. และรับซีดีการบรรเลงผลงานมาห์เล่อร์ในอดีตของสยามฟิลฮาร์โมนิคออร์เคสตร้าเป็นอภินันทนาการ  นอกจากนั้น นามผู้บริจาคจะปรากฏในสูจิบัตร หากส่งมาไม่ล่าช้ากว่ากำหนดปิดเล่ม
ผู้สนับสนุนที่พำนักในประเทศไทยโปรดโอนเงินเข้าบัญชีที่เปิดพิเศษสำหรับโครงการนี้โดยเฉพาะ ชื่อบัญชี สมเถา สุจริตกุล ธนาคารไทยพาณิชย์จำกัด เลขบัญชี 001 351 3547 ทั้งนี้เพื่อกันไม่ให้เกิดการสับสนกับบัญชีมูลนิธิฯ
หากท่านมีความประสงค์จะสนับสนุน  โปรดเขียน comment มาด้วย (การขู่เข็ญหรือใช้วาจาไม่สุภาพเป็นการไม่สมควร)  เราจะได้เห็นว่าเน๊ตมีพลังเพียงใด
เมื่อไม่กี่ชั่วโมงมานี้ ผมได้รับเงินสนับสนุนเพียงพอสำหรับค่าตอบแทนนักไวโอลิน 2 คน  แต่ผมยังมีเวลาอีกกว่าเดือน แม้จะต้องฟันฝ่าอุปสรรค ผมยังเชื่อในการฟื้นคืนชีพของพลังแห่งดนตรี
หกท่านไม่สามารถมาฟังคอนเสิร์ตได้  ผมจะโพสต์รายการบรรเลงเพื่อท่านจะได้ชมอย่างใกล้ชิด
ขอบคุณทุกท่าน
สมเถา สุจริตกุล

Friday, January 6, 2012

S.P. Somtow, Witchfinder General

Official Coat of Arms of the Zoe Katholike Church of St. Papinian of the Darker Angels
I had a dream so bizarre I decided not to write it down.  But when I don't write them down, I forget them. It's a way to avoid facing whatever message may be concealed therein.

But four days have gone by and the images still haunt me.  So, I have to write it down after all.

I dream that I was an official hunter of witches and that I had found a way to trap my prey.  It is to hang human torsos upside down from a tree branch as bait.

Presently the witch comes crawling along the tree ... she is covered in a black cloak which appears to be part of her, not a garment.  From the next of the cloak, her head should emerge but instead it is the head of a serpent.  A monstrous serpent - the head is like a human head.

The lure works because the serpent slithers down the torsos, looking for the head to devour.  There are no heads but instead there is my sack, in which I trap the witch.

Finally I am able to strip off the witch's hide which is that garment-like black leathery mass.  I put it on and it erects a huge jagged hood around my head, protecting it from view.  In my dream, I see myself only from behind, so once the hood is up there is no sign of my face visible.  I am completely enveloped in the witch's skin.

A voice says to me, "You have been given the privilege of hunting this witch because you seek your inner self.  You have been allowed to sacrifice these people, hanging their torsos on this tree, because they are the cost of your self-knowledge.  You have hunted the witch and may now wear her skin as your own."

***

So there it is.  What the hell does it mean?  I'm afraid to think, but this is the longest that a dream has refused to be pushed back down into the subconscious ... without being written down.