Siam Sinfonietta delight New York festival goers

music May 16, 2018 11:00

By The Nation

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Thailand once again triumphed last month when the Siam Sinfonietta played as the showcase orchestra at the New York International Music Festival in Carnegie Hall, providing inspiration to young musicians from around the world.



The six selections played by Siam Sinfonietta in a programme of music by Thai and American composers selected by maestro Somtow Sucharitkul and Trisdee na Patalung, consisted of new adaptations of music by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Trisdee’s autobiographical tone poem “Perception” and film music from “Naresuan 5” by Pantawit Kiangsiri. The American works were Aaron Copland’s iconic “Appalachian Spring” and the title music from “Star Wars”. 

As the showcase of the festival, Siam Sinfonietta was chosen as an example of a youth ensemble and the audience response was heart-warming. At the end of the first piece, in which violinist Chot Buasuwan played an affecting interpretation of HM King Bhumibol’s “Alexandra”, the audience spontaneously rose to its feet. The excitement increased with each performance until the final rendition of “Star Wars”, which the production manager of the New York Festival described as “incredible beyond measure”.

 It was a programme of uncompromising technical difficulty, with a dynamic range that stretched from the sheerest whisper to the most thunderous roar, and emotional range from the dreaminess of Somtow’s “Architect of Dreams” to the self-examination of Trisdee’s “Perception” and the “epic fantasy” sound of “Naresuan” and “Star Wars.”

World renowned composer Johan de Meij, who was in the audience, remarked “ I would love to work with those amazingly talented young people some time. The clarity of the sound was stunning, especially in ‘Appalachian Spring’.” 

Prominent New York pianist Kimball Gallagher commented that the Siam Sinfonietta is remarkable as an ensemble, from the standpoint of sheer passion and energy while Japanese musician Erina Iwasaki echoed his words, praising the orchestra for being full of passion, energy, and lyricism throughout the whole programme.

Following this concert and an outdoor concert in Central Park’s famous Naumberg Bandshell, Somtow and a team from Opera Siam went to Washington to discuss with Dr Paul Michael Taylor of the Smithsonian Institution a forthcoming concert in Washington, which will be coordinated with news of the exciting discovery of manuscripts and documents in the Library of Congress that shed new light on the music of HM King Bhumibol during the 1950s. 

Dr Pathorn Srikaranonda of Kasertsart University, one of the leading experts on His Majesty’s music, and historian Dr Sirilaksana Khoman also attended the meeting.

The US tour of Siam Sinfonietta, which will continue with “Part Two” in Washington later this year, is being sponsored by TAT, PTT, Bangkok Bank, the JFK Foundation, Hemaraj, and many private donors. 

Fundraising efforts continue to ensure the second leg of the tour.

Siam Sinfonietta, created by Somtow, is an orchestra of young people who are trained using a revolutionary new holistic music education method devised by Somtow to fast-track talented young musicians into professional status. To make sure that students are chosen based on talent alone, the orchestra is a full scholarship programme, meaning that the students and their parents are not asked for any financial contribution for their participation.

The Siam Sinfonietta works with some of the world’s top musicians from major orchestras including the Deutsche Oper orchestra, the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, the London Symphony, and the Hungarian Radio Orchestra. Now in its eighth year, the orchestra has won five first prizes in international festivals and competitions, and has performed to critical acclaim in New York, Los Angeles, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Abu Dhabi, and other major cultural centres.