Thai talent showcased at Ben’s

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It was a packed house at the final concert of the season at Ben’s in Jomtien on Saturday, Feb. 28.  Billed as “a vocal bombardment,” the programme featured three talented Thai singers from Bangkok.  

Counter-tenor Potprecha Cholvijarn (Jak) opened the programme with a lovely aria from Mozart’s opera Mitridate written at the age of fourteen.  Jak studied at Bristol University and sang in prestigious choirs in the UK.  He has performed with Bangkok Opera, the Siam Philharmonic and the Siam Sinfonietta and composer Somtow Sucharitkul cast him in three of his operas.  Jak gave a telling performance of Handel’s Dolc’ é pur d’amor l’affanno but really came into his own with songs by Caccini and Dowland.  He has a clear focused tone, and seemed to be in his element with a moving performance of Dowland’s melancholy Flow my tears.

(L-R) Piet van den Broek, Morakot Cherdchoo-ngarm, Potprecha Cholvijarn (Jak), Nattida Gumchai (Pang) and Saran Senavanin (Rain).(L-R) Piet van den Broek, Morakot Cherdchoo-ngarm, Potprecha Cholvijarn (Jak), Nattida Gumchai (Pang) and Saran Senavanin (Rain).

Soprano Nattida Gumchai (Pang) started singing at age of thirteen and in 2011 began her Master Degree studies in Vocal Performance at Mahidol University’s College of Music where she’s now a voice teacher.  She has performed with Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra and she was a finalist in the Osaka International Music Competition.  She gave a lively performance of Les Filles de Cadix by Delibes, which showed her powerful, focused voice, her excellent intonation and her charming stage presence.  She later sang two songs by Hugo Wolf, and performed a song from Die Fledermaus enchanting the audience with her confidence and immaculate sense of timing.  Pang also gave an expressive performance of Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante from “Carmen” which demonstrated her superb vocal technique.

Baritone Saran Senavinin (Rain) began his professional career in 2010.  He performed in Somtow Sucharitkul’s opera, Mae Naak as the Bloomsbury Theatre in London and has appeared in many productions at Silpakorn University.  Rain performed three songs by the Italian composer Stefano Donaudy and impressed with his confident stage presence and powerful voice.  He also sang three songs by Samuel Barber performing them with confidence and a sense of drama, clear diction and accurate intonation.

The keyboard accompaniments were provided by Piet van den Broek, a regular performer at Ben’s and Morakot Cherdchoo-ngarm, who started piano lessons at the age of six.  In recent years, he has won prizes at the Bangkok Chopin Piano Competition and at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Malaysia.  He’s also an accomplished composer with a Bachelor Degree in composition.  He accompanied the singers sensitively with rhythmic, well-phrased playing and he’s clearly a fine musician.

Perhaps the musical highlights of the concert were the vocal duets.  Jak and Pang gave an exhilarating performance of two Purcell songs including the well-known Sound the Trumpet.  Pang was joined by Rain for the exhilarating Lippen Schweigen from Franz Lehár’s “The Merry Widow”.  They gave a wonderfully compelling performance which really brought the house down.  Rain and Pang concluded the concert with Donizetti’s Pronta i’o son from “Don Pasquale”.  It was a really splendid tour de force that captivated and delighted the enthusiastic audience.

There’s another opportunity to hear these splendid singers – along with several others – when Grand Opera (Thailand) and the Royal Cliff Group presents Music of Love and Devotion: An Evening of Opera and Musical Favourites, a concert in celebration of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn’s 60th birthday, with music by Puccini, Donizetti, Mozart, Handel and songs from popular musicals.  It all happens on Thursday 2nd April 2015 at the Head of State Chamber, Royal Cliff Grand Hotel.  Ticket reservations: 02 259 1204; or [email protected]