Seven nagas and the hunter fight for Manorah.
Seven nagas and the hunter fight for Manorah.

A life in sights and sounds

music October 28, 2017 01:00

By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul

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Orchestras, singers and ballet dancers pay tribute to the late King at the royal cremation

As Thais all over the world bid final farewell to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday night, musicians and dancers paid their own tributes with performances on three stages running from dusk to dawn.

Music in the form of the late Monarch’s compositions was very much in evidence on stage three in front of Thammasat University in the royal cremation ground with the much-loved runs performed by some of Thailand’s finest symphony orchestras.

Indeed, seven symphony orchestras with a grand total of more than 1,000 performers, musicians and singers took to stage three during the night.

Formally designated “Tha Khue Duangjai Thai Thua Lah”, the stage featured seven acts, which kicked off with “Duj Yard Thip Chalom Lah”. Divided into two parts, the first segment offered stunning renditions by musicians of orchestras from the Fine Arts Department, Bunditpatanasilpa Institute, Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music, the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and chorus singers of Rajini School of the song “Raja Phu Song Tham”. Originally recorded by Thongchai “Bird” McIntyre, the song is inspired by the late King’s words at his coronation – “We shall reign in righteousness for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people”. It was followed by “Nai Luang Khong Paendin”, which draw not only applause from the crowd but also tears.

The current four members of Au Saw Friday – Non Buranasomphop on tenor saxophone, Sandat Tandhanan on trombone, Aniruth Tinakorn Na Ayudhya on guitar and Pathorn Srikaranonda on alto sax – the band founded by the late Monarch, jammed with the orchestras on royal compositions “Nature Waltz” and “No Moon”. The band takes its name from the first letters of Amporn Sathan Hall where the King and other members would play music together every Friday evening.

Other royal songs, sung in Thai and English versions, included “Old-Fashioned Melody”, “Candlelight Blues”, “Smiles”, “Echo”, “Still on My Mind”, “Somewhere Somehow”, “HM Blues”, “Never Mind the Hungry Men’s Blues” and “The Impossible Dream”, the latter performed by Kittinan Chinsamran, who shot to fame from “The Voice Thailand”, in his strong baritone voice. The first part wrapped with the powerful voices of chorus singers from Rajini School on “Alexandra.”

The music was followed by the ballet “Manorah” featuring the score written by King Bhumibol and choreographed by Sutee Pakdeedeva. The ballet, which is based on the late King’s composition “Kinari Suite” and features “Nature Waltz”, “The Hunter”, “Kinari Waltz”, “A Love Story” and “Blue Day”, is set in the mythical Himmaphan Forest and narrates the love that blooms between legendary prince Phra Suthon and the supernatural kinari (half-bird and half-human) princess called Manorah.

To a backdrop of a waterfall, the dancers put on a stunning show exquisitely attired in costumes of lotus and marigolds and also dressed tigers, bees, deer, butterflies, monkeys, peacocks and snakes in the forest.

The music was also a reminder of how far His Majesty the late King's musical talent reached. On October 3, 1964, the Nieder Osterreich Tonkunstler Orchestra, conducted by Heinz Walsberg, performed “Kinari Suite”, as well as “Falling Rain”, “Love at Sundown”, “The Royal Marines March”, and “Royal Guards March” at Vienna’s Concert Hall to such acclaim that two days after, the Government of Austria presented the late King with an honorary membership, No 23, of the Institute of Music and Arts of the City of Vienna.

As the night drew on, orchestras from four army units of the country took the stage for their individual performances. The Royal Thai Army’s “Tai Fah Rom Yen Proh Phra Baramee” featuring Suttipong Wattanajang and a chorus of soldiers performed “King Rama IX” and the Royal Thai Navy “Thuay Ras Nom Sadudee” played “Khon Bon Fah” (“The Man’s in the Sky”), “Saeng Thien, Saeng Thip” and ended with veteran baritone vocalist Santi Lunpae’s rendition of “The Impossible Dream”. “Thawai Phakdi Ong Rachan” by the Royal Thai Air Force and “Sathit Niran Nai Jai Ras” by the Royal Thai Police closed out this segment with performances of royal compositions.

The night on Stage Three ended with orchestral renditions from the Public Relations Department in “Puang Kha Bat Bangkhom Thawai”, and Chulalongkorn University Band in “Soo Sawan Kalai Nai Thip Vimarn”, the latter performing songs the late King composed for several universities including Chulalongkorn, Thammasat and Kasetsart, for his first band Lay Kram – “Lay Kram Goes Dixie” – as well as “Love” and “Menu Khai”.