A ‘Classyical’ Sunday at PCEC

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Tasana Nagavajara plays a lovely Bach melody solo for his PCEC audience prior to giving his presentation on ‘living with music’.
Tasana Nagavajara plays a lovely Bach melody solo for his PCEC audience prior to giving his presentation on ‘living with music’.

The topic was classical music at the Sunday, April 1, meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. MC Ren Lexander called on member Judith Edmonds to introduce Violinist Tasana Nagavajara to the audience. Tasana has been to Pattaya to both perform and direct on many occasions. He is an accomplished violinist and had been first chair of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra for ten years. He is currently the Artistic Director of the Pro Musica Orchestra. Tasana was a founding member of the Faculty of Music at Silpakorn University and has also served as Director of the Silpakorn Summer Music School.

After his introduction, he came to the stage and immediately lifted his instrument and played a lovely Bach melody solo. He then showed a slide on the big screen of the written music that he had just played…it looked very complicated. He commented about reading music and explained that musicians rarely perform the music exactly as written. Thus, his underlying theme for today’s talk would include improvisation; making it up as you go.

Tasana then proceeded to talk about his topic of the day ‘living with music’. He used this as a cover story to trace his personal music journey from the childhood influences of his grandfather and father through many years of formal training in Europe and around the world under the tutelage of several virtuosic music teachers.

Coming from the Thai classical instrument, Saw Duang, Tasana took up learning the violin at the early age of 9. The turning point in his musical education came in 1989 when he was granted a full scholarship by the International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA) to study with Alberto Lysy and Johannes Eskar in Switzerland. He thereby gained the golden opportunity to become a member of the Camerata Lysy Gstaad which performed under Lord Yehudi Menuhin in most major European cities, USA, Canada and South America. He received further training with Roland Baldini at the Vorarlberg Conservatory in Austria, and with Kathryn Lucktenberg at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA. He obtained his doctorate degree from Chulalongkorn University in 2017, with a thesis on Mozart’s violin sonatas.

Tasana has been intensifying his international career with his involvement from 2011 to 2016 as faculty member and chamber performer in the Estate Musicale Frentana in Lanciano, Italy, and in 2014 he joined the International Akaroa Music Festival, New Zealand. He has twice given recitals at the historic Mendelssohn House in Leipzig, Germany.

His current passion for the classical music scene in Thailand is to see a reversal of classical music’s decline. Tasana feels that the scene needs to evolve from the traditional sit, listen and polite applause at unsure time’s audiences to those that are engaged in participatory creative sessions exploring new horizons within the music.

Tasana Nagavajara explains that audiences during the period when classical composers, such as Bach, were often clapping and interacting with the orchestra. He feels that classical music using smaller groups are helping to regain some of this interaction and getting away from the staid silent audiences that has become the expected for classical performances.
Tasana Nagavajara explains that audiences during the period when classical composers, such as Bach, were often clapping and interacting with the orchestra. He feels that classical music using smaller groups are helping to regain some of this interaction and getting away from the staid silent audiences that has become the expected for classical performances.

All the original masters Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Chopin were improvisers of the highest degree and that particular art has been either forgotten or squelched through rigid classical training. If classical music is to survive in today’s world that aspect of self-expression needs to be resurrected and he is committed to making that happen on the Bangkok scene.

Personally, as he gets older and the fingers are less limber each year, Tasana sees himself doing more project work, directing, and writing. As far as money, he admits that few classical musicians can do music full time and most have to hold other jobs to put food on the proverbial table.

MC Ren Lexander then brought everyone up to date on current events. This was followed by the “Open Forum” portion of the meeting, where questions are asked and answered and comments made about expat living in Thailand. For more information on the Club and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.

Member Ren Lexander interviews Tasana Nagavajara after his presentation. To view the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrasp RFhdPQ&t=6s.
Member Ren Lexander interviews Tasana Nagavajara after his presentation. To view the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrasp RFhdPQ&t=6s.