Pattaya marches to success on mix of tradition, Thai culture

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Putting on traditional marching band numbers and moves with a touch of Thai culture proved to be the winning recipe for Pattaya’s all-city student marching band as it swept up gold medals and rave reviews across Europe.

Comprised of students from the city’s 11 public schools, the band won two gold medals in marching parade and show band categories at July’s Rasteder Musiktage International Open in Germany. The show is an official qualifying competition for entry into the 2012 and 2013 World Association of Marching Show Bands World Championships to be held in January.

Pitak Sritang, assistant band instructor of Pattaya City School 4, and one of the Pattaya City School Band instructors, shows off the gold medal from the competition.Pitak Sritang, assistant band instructor of Pattaya City School 4, and one of the Pattaya City School Band instructors, shows off the gold medal from the competition.

The students also performed on French National Day at the “Carnaval Tropical de Paris” festival to welcome the Thai ambassador to France.

The instructor for the 83 students prepared the team by emphasizing that the band should combine uniquely Thai art and culture in their performances. Thus their repertoire included the Loy Krathong Song and Thai folk dance.

In the show-band competition, the Pattaya students highlighted the “identity of Thai cultural art” with songs such as “Columbus” and “Tom-Tom” that charmed audiences.

The Pattaya All-City Band was founded as part of a city project to have schools perform at city celebrations. The city spent more than 10 million baht on getting the outfit up and running and chose the best students from each of the 11 public schools to compete and local and regional levels.

The students also perform on French National Day at the “Carnaval Tropical de Paris” festival to welcome the Thai ambassador to France.The students also perform on French National Day at the “Carnaval Tropical de Paris” festival to welcome the Thai ambassador to France.

Students trained for a year before taking on their first contest, a Physical Education Department championship. The team placed second in its category.

In 2008, officials aspired to compete at the national level and set up a second band for primary school students. It competed in the True Visions-Yamaha Thailand Band Championship and finished third.

More success came in 2010 as the two groups finished first in the 30th Royal Cup Marching Band Competition. A second place finish at that year’s True Visions’ contest followed, earning the team the German bid.

The band receives tremendous applause at the French Carnival.The band receives tremendous applause at the French Carnival.

Assistant band instructor for Pattaya School No. 4 Pitak Sritang said the chance to compete in Europe was seen as a way to make the band better and help promote the city. He said students took the challenge seriously and trained hard.

“They didn’t expect to win any prizes,” Pitak said of the students. “They simply had the goal of showing their competency at the international level.”

They did more than that, although after returning from France, several children got ill due to fatigue and climate differences. However, he said, that only hardened their resolve to train harder and beef up for the German contest.

Putting on traditional marching band numbers and moves with a touch of Thai culture proved to be the winning recipe for Pattaya’s all-city student marching band as it swept up gold medals and rave reviews across Europe.Putting on traditional marching band numbers and moves with a touch of Thai culture proved to be the winning recipe for Pattaya’s all-city student marching band as it swept up gold medals and rave reviews across Europe.

“When the competition time arrived, trainers and conductors could only provide moral support. We were the only band from Asia, so we had to give our best effort,” Pitak said. “It was a great experience to join the competition and observe the European bands, but when the Pattaya City Band performed a show, all 11 instructors and administrators were astonished when all audiences stood up to clap after our show. The happiest moment for the trainers and administrators was when the results came out that our band received two winning prizes in this competition program.”

The next goal, he said, is the world championships two years from now.

Chai yo!  Some of the band members and organizers gather for a group photo during the event.Chai yo!  Some of the band members and organizers gather for a group photo during the event.

The students took the challenge seriously and trained hard.The students took the challenge seriously and trained hard.