7:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, 2012
Taylor Performing Arts Center
The Somapa Thai Dance Company presents Pralor – the all-time favorite of Thai classical dance drama based on the ancient poem "Lilit Pralor." The poem was believed to have been composed during the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767) by an anonymous poet and adapted during the reign of King Chulalongkorn of the Rattanakosin era (1782-1932).
Loosely based on the northern Thai myth, the dance drama has incorporated many northern Thai folk movements and flares as well music and costume influences from the north.
Pralor is an exquisite example of how ancient Thai poetry can come alive in the classical dramatic arts with elements of beauty, fear, passion, magic, love, hatred, rivalry, conflict, and fate all in one story. The Somapa Thai Dance Company will present key scenes from the story.
Following the dance drama − in the second half of the performance – the group will present a variety of folk dances from Thailand. The dances represent the diversity of cultures and customs of different ethnic groups from the four major regions of Thailand.
The dance drama and the folk dances will give the audience a glimpse of ancient Thailand, its people and culture, arts, and traditions.
The Somapa Thai Dance Company, based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, has been actively giving performances, presentations, and workshops since 1999. The group has performed in such locations as the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the Smithsonian Arthur M. Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. The group has also performed in Mexico, at Teatro de la Danza in Mexico City, Teatro Juárez in Guanajuato, and Teatro Angela Peralta in San Miguel de Allende. Key members of the troupe have over 30 years of performing experience. They were trained in Thailand with the most celebrated dance masters including the national artists and others from the prestigious Department of Fine Arts in Bangkok.
The Somapa Thai Dance Company's mission is to preserve and promote Thai culture and arts in the Americas. They hope to bring mutual understanding between people of different countries, cultures, and ethnicities, and diversity to the communities they perform in and teach.
7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, 2012
Taylor Performing Arts Center
Under the direction of guest conductor Jeffrey Macomber, the Southern Symphony Orchestra performs four major works, including Sattha by Thai composer Narong Prangcharoen. Sattha was inspired by the tragic tsunami of December 2004 in South Asia, which killed some 200,000 people in 13 countries. Prangcharoen composed the music to commemorate the first anniversary of that event. Sattha – "fate" in Thai − is intended to convey the atmosphere of this event with a smaller number of instruments than full orchestra while paying respect to such other musical elegies as the Adagio for Strings by Barber and the Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima by Penderecki. The music imitates the movement of the waves and the vibrations caused by the earthquake. Each solo instrument represents both the epicenter, the point on the earth's surface directly above the place where an earthquake originates, and the hypocenter, the actual location of the energy released inside the earth. The entire piece moves slowly and creates an enormous wave of sound toward the end. "I hope this piece reminds people about what happened in the tsunami disaster and encourages all the victims who are struggling to recover," Prangcharoen wrote in 2005.
Prangcharoen has established an international reputation and is recognized as one of Asia's leading composers. In 2007, the Thai government named Prangcharoen a Contemporary National Artist and awarded him the Silapathorn Award, one of Thailand's most prestigious honors. Prangcharoen's music has been performed in Asia, America, Australia, and Europe by many renowned ensembles such as the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Grant Park Orchestra, the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, the China Philharmonic Orchestra, the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, the German National Theater Orchestra, the China NCPA Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra.
7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 1-3, 2012
Bud Walton Theatre
Admission: free to students, faculty, staff; $3 for adults; $1 for senior citizens and high school students
Directed by Dr. James Lile, Jr.
For the Thailand Semester, Southern Theatre has a special offering: a shadow puppet drama. Nang Talung, the shadow puppet theatre of southern Thailand, dramatizes classical stories for popular audiences. The actors are flat puppets whose silhouettes are cast upon a screen lit from the back. The invisible operators provide the voices. MSSU student puppeteers will be joined by students from the Music Department who will provide the live accompaniment. Traditionally, the plays were based on the Ramakien (the Thai version of the Ramayana) and popular folk-tales. Today, the repertoire has expanded to include plays on contemporary topics. Southern Theatre will present stories from Phra Abhai Mani, an epic tale of magic and adventure, by Sunthorn Phu, who is esteemed in Thailand as “The Poet of the People.”