Four young prodigies in a Thailand Showcase

by Expat Life
Four prodigies

On Tuesday June 18th at The Bangkok Club in Sathorn a memorable event took place. Four young Thai artists performed a concert of classical repertoire which amazed the select VIP attendance.

Three pianists and one violinist performed top classical pieces of the concert repertoire and I have been told as I am certainly no expert on the subject that talents of that kind are a rare occurrence in Thailand. Brilliantly played, works of Chopin, Ravel, Prokoviev resonated in the lobby of The Bangkok Club like it had never experienced before. Classical concerts are rather sparse in Bangkok, especially a recital of very young Thai soloists. The concert was organised by The Bangkok Club with the help of two sponsors who are also helping some the performers in their aspiring career: The Path Foundation of Mr. Danai Pathomvanich and the Knight Funds Foundation of Mr. Jeremy King. Virtuosity and expressiveness were on the programme and watching these young 12, 13, 16 and 17 year old artists in the brightly lit arena stood alone in front of an attentive audience, playing from memory, intellectually challenging pieces of the Grand Masters of the past was a pure delight. Who would dare to do that, if not courageous and extremely well prepared, motivated and self-secure talents? Only the very brightest I thought and indeed they were.

Phung

The first performer, Phung sontombat (Non), 16 years old, sponsored by the Knight Funds Foundation, played the infamous Chopin Scherzo No. 2, an act of pure musicality and virtuosity with long melodic lines that touches the heart and a sense of almost movie like dramatic moments exploding at the end in a final explosion of energy.

Polsid

Polsid Sobhanasiri (Ohm), 17 years old, the violinist of the evening, thrilled us with the great Ludwig Van’ Concerto, with at first a introvert slow movement followed by a last movement full of ‘dancing like’ thematics and perfect structurally and precision specific of the classical Grand Master. Very few violinists in Thailand have achieved his quality and his hard work is already being recognised with the winning prize at the Settrade Competition and at the Kalayani Institute of Music Concerto competitions.

The third and youngest performer, Wipass tharitsakul (Plub), 12 years old, showed us in Schumann’s “Carnaval” an extended array of musical characters. We were amazed by the variety of sounds and colours coming out of the piano from his already, highly trained fingers and he ended his performance in a firework with Debussy’s “Jardins Sous la Pluie”.

Suthasinee

The last performer, Suthasinee Vongjindasak (Hong), just 13 years old, sponsored by the Path Foundation, captivated us with Ravel’s “Alborada del Gracioso”, a piece that she performed a couple of months ago for HRH Princess Sirinthorn. Alternating between Spanish flamingo dances, melodic and rhythmical patterns and impressionistic colours and atmospheric passages, we were left wondering how such a young girl from Hua Hin could provide us with such diversity of touches and styles…. Finishing in a missile like Prokoviev piece, the audience was enchanted and flabbergasted.

Where does this all come from I asked myself? After all, the pieces performed are from 19th and 20th Century Europe and these kids seemed to already perfectly master the technique necessary to perform this music, giving a convincing impression to fully understand their diverse styles and even their “substance”… this being the ultimate grail of any classical performer!The answer of all that may well lie, aside from their inherently born talent which is undeniable, in their coach, namely French artist and pianist Sebastien Koch.Born in Forbach, France, after graduating in Europe from Metz Conservatoire, Paris Ecole Normale de Musique and Freiburg Musikhoschule, all highly reputable institutions, Koch went on to complete a full scholarship to USC in California for 8 years. He specialised himself even more and graduated with the famed “Artist Diploma”, a distinction for concert artists considered even a higher achievement than a regular Doctorate degree. Performing extensively throughout the USA and Europe, (Koch even performed in the Berlin Philharmonie and the Concertgebow Amsterdam as a soloist!) the maestro went on trips to discover Asia and fell in love with Thailand. He taught at the Alliance Francais and Mahidol College of Music for many years. He has dedicated himself to helping young Thai talents ever since and is pursuing this noble goal relentlessly, helped by his lovely Thai wife.

Talents come randomly says Sebastien Koch, la preuve: not only Bangkokians but also some people from the provinces like Hua Hin have exceptional talents! To give you on more example, one of his best ever Mahidol students, San Jittakarn, was so exceptional that he went all the way to study at the famed Juilliard School in New York on a scholarship! He recently won the third prize at the Geneva International Competition, one of the most prominent in the world and originally came from Mae Sot from parents who had never even touched an instrument! When Hong (the young 13 years old girl who performed this week) was presented to him a few years ago, he was simply amazed by her sound and profound understanding of music which seemed so far from her culture and upbringing. Yet she “had it all” already, instinctively, and he must acknowledge, he instantly thought about reincarnation!” he says.

Plub

Plub, 12 years old, and the youngest performer of the evening, is another case of exceptional talent: a student of Harrow International School Bangkok on a full scholarship for his musical abilities (who would have thought otherwise…), he came to the maestro to improve his technique and deepen his musical understanding. “The ability of Plub to learn perfectly such an immensely difficult repertoire in such a short time is simply put a true amazement to me” says Koch.For these great talents, a commitment and long hours of practice are necessary. Between 4 to 6 hours each and every day are required to be able to master these monuments of music and there is no way round that. The discipline needed to achieve this level is mind blowing and they deserve huge respect. Their goals are to be concert artists on an international level. There are only a very few Thai classical artists nowadays on the world stage, and these are definitely the next generation in preparation.

A long and winding road awaits them, full of success and maybe some disappointments, with international competitions in sight and auditions for the major conservatories and universities around the world, like the above mentioned Juilliard School in New York, but hopefully not limited to. There are about five to ten top music schools for high end performers in the world, they are located in the USA and in Europe and we will definitely strive for one of these for each of them. These students deserve nothing but the best and they will have a successful path, there is no doubt about it” says the maestro Koch. In the light of what we heard that evening at The Bangkok Club, and the impression these young artists made to the public, I have absolutely no doubt about it. We hope to hear them again perform in the near future in Bangkok as more of this music and its message  is needed more than ever nowadays…”

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