Thailand Philharmonic debuts in Myanmar
Traditional Thai music? Check. Internationally recognised composers? Check. You name it, and the Thailand Philharmonic might just play it
THEY won’t be your typical visitors from Thailand—they’re not here to compete in football or boxing matches, nor are they here to raise awareness about migrant workers. The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra has just touched down in Yangon for their very first Myanmar tour, with hopes of cross-cultural musical exchange. The concert tour will begin in Yangon at the National Theatre on August 26, heading northward to the Mandalay National Theatre the next day, and finally closing at the Nay Pyi Taw Convention Center on August 29.
Truly a testament to international collaboration, the concert is a joint project between the Thai royal embassy, the German embassy, the Goethe-Institut and local Myanmar musicians.
The founder of the Thai Philharmonic Orchestra and the dean of the College of Music at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Sugree Charoensook, is very excited by TPO’s first trip to its eastern neighbour.
“The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra is different from other orchestras in Southeast Asia,” Sugree said. “It took me 30 years to cultivate, starting with children as young as three years old who have been playing for the last 11 years and with the best musicians and teachers in the area.”
Thanks to funding from the Thai royal government, the TPO has grown into one of the best symphonic ensembles in Southeast Asia since its founding nearly 10 years ago. It doesn’t hurt that its home base – the Mahidol’s College of Music – is one of the most prestigious music conservatories in Southeast Asia.
The orchestra is made up of 95 musicians. These include professional musicians, teachers at the College of Music, and students who hail from more than 15 different nations.
“Thailand is not very different from Myanmar,” Sugree said, noting the exorbitant travel fees and challenges of transporting instruments across borders. “Setting up a professional symphony orchestra here is not easy.”
Despite the complications that arise coordinating travel plans for 120 musicians, Sugree says it is all worth it as his dream to share the TPO with Myanmar is about to be realised. This year marks the TPO’s fifth tour, having first performed in Thailand, Japan in 2009, New Zealand in 2012, and Laos in 2013.
“This is a window of opportunity for people in Myanmar and Thailand,” he said with high hopes that the concert will spark a mutual and musical exchange between the two countries. “And in the future, I look forward to performances by the Myanmar Symphony.”
Anything but conventional, the TPO performs a myriad of musical stylings with a portfolio of 10 CDs, including traditional Thai music and newer works from internationally recognised composers.
This weekend the orchestra will share the stage with Myanmar and German musicians, offering audiences the works of classical European composers, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, as well a taste of home with the Myanmar and Thai national anthem and traditional Myanmar music.
In Yangon and Mandalay, the concerts will begin at 7pm and 6:30pm in Nay Pyi Taw, free of charge.
In case you miss the live concerts, Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) will live-stream the show on TV.
To RSVP, or for more information, head to www.goethe.de/myanmar.
The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off its first-ever Myanmar tour on August 26 in Yangon.
Chief conductor Gudni Emilsson will lead the orchestra, which is one of the best symphonic ensembles in the Southeast Asian region.
Emilsson conducts his musicians with flair.
The 95 musicians will also perform in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.