Thai youth orchestra shines in Los Angeles

national June 21, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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The Siam Sinfonietta, the three-year-old youth orchestra founded by Somtow Sucharitkul, received a Gold Award and a standing ovation last night in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Disney Hall, the new state-of-the-art architectural marvel designed by Frank

Invited to perform in Los Angeles after winning first prize at the Summa Cum Laude international festival at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, the Sinfonietta is currently on tour in Southern California. 
They opened with an informal “mini-concert” at Disneyland and followed up with their impressive Disney Hall debut at the Los Angeles International Music Festival.
The festival showcased ensembles from India, Singapore and Hawaii as well as many mainland US musicians. 
During their concert, the Siam Sinfonietta performed Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije” Suite and gave a sneak preview of excerpts from Somtow’s forthcoming ballet “Suriyothai”, under the baton of Thailand’s leading young conductor Trisdee na Patalung, whom Somtow introduced to the audience as “even younger than Gustavo Dudamel” – the famously youthful music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 
Trisdee was recently listed as one of the world’s 10 “conductors under 30 to watch” by the Italian press.
Somtow himself conducted the Prokofiev after talking about the music’s savage humour and irony. He then entertained the audience with the moving tale of Queen Suriyothai before Trisdee took the podium. 
The audience was so enthusiastic that they broke classical music convention by applauding energetically after every movement. At the end of the final movement, the “Burmese March”, the audience immediately rose to its feet in a spontaneous outburst of applause.
“To get a standing ovation in Disney Hall ... it gave me goosebumps,” said Chaimongkol Wiriyasatjaporn, the Sinfonietta’s administrative assistant. 
The feeling was echoed by most of the group’s young musicians. Only two years earlier, 18-year-old Tanayut Jansirivorkul had heard renowned violinist Hillary Hahn play in the very same hall. 
“It was amazing to stand in the exact same spot and play my solo,” he said of his performance of the “Deserted City” movement from the Suriyothai Suite.
The Festival Committee presented three Gold Awards and two Silver. 
In addition to the Siam Sinfonietta, the other Gold winners were a symphonic band from Singapore and a fusion ensemble from California that performs music based on South Indian traditions.
The Siam Sinfonietta was founded as a “back to basics” youth orchestra for young musicians 12-24 who plan a professional classical music career. 
This week they perform two more concerts in California, one in San Diego and one in Irvine, before heading back to Thailand. On July 29 they will present the world premiere of the completed “Suriyothai Suite” in Berlin at the Young Euro Classic Festival, a prestigious event that brings together the very best of the world’s youth orchestras.