The Thai Cellissimo Orchestra, the first and only cello orchestra in Thailand, came together again last week under the baton of Kittikun Sodprasert, principal cellist of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.
The Thai Cellissimo Orchestra.
It was their second charity performance since their debut last year. Apart from the beautiful variety of music ranging from the medley of Suzuki's cello method book to works by famous composers from different eras, from arrangements of The Beatles to the world premier of a piece by a Thai contemporary composer, it was a pleasant evening thrown by the upcoming musical company.
Although members of the orchestra were different from last year, the Thai Cellissimo Orchestra is comprised of well-selected cellists _ from nine-year-old novices to professional veterans. This year the they also welcomed cellists from the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. Although not a permanent outfit _ the orchestra gathers for special occasions only _ members are united by the love of music and because the deep-sounding cello is an integral part of their lives.
Like a string quartet, the cello orchestra is harmonically and melodically divided into four sections to complement different musical roles. Initiated by Apichai Leamthong, Thailand's leading cellist, the group was assembled through Facebook under the name Thai Cello Society.
Chulalongkorn University's Recital Hall of the Art and Culture Building was packed and filled with a lively, warm-hearted and semi-formal atmosphere. The stage was too small to accommodate the 65 cellists, but that did not seem to hinder them. Many cello cases were lined up on the stage behind musicians, and they became perfect colourful stage props. The musicians wore jeans and custom-made T-shirts especially made for the event. The proceeds from the event went to HM the King's Royal Project, Phradabos Foundation to assist youth in the southern provinces.
It's not very often that you have the opportunity to hear the royal anthem played beautifully by an all-cello orchestra. The sound was graciously deep and beautifully warm with musical phrases carefully sculpted.
Apichai gave a welcome talk, including his memories and inspirations and recalled obstacles overcome by the orchestra. Kittikun Sodprasert directed the group with an intensely clear manner, but never lacked passion, occasionally joking with the audience and orchestra members. Young cellists with full support from the whole orchestra, sounded charming as they performed selected songs from Suzuki's book for learning cello. Compared to other orchestral instruments, the violoncello, or cello for short, has many advantages. One of them is its extremely wide range. Moreover, the cello's tones are beautifully close to the human voice. The Thai Cellissimo Orchestra brought out the best in the instrument.
Delivered with great spirit, Jean-Baptiste Breval's Cello Sonata In C-Major, arranged especially for this performance by Apichai, was full of spryness. Kittikun led the orchestra in the slow movement from Haydn's String Quartet In C-Major expressively with nicely blended harmony and beautiful singing melody, while the March from Franz von Suppe's operetta Boccaccio was full of cheerfulness. He was always careful and particular with each ending phrase. Songs Of Birds, composed by Spanish cellist and conductor Pablo Casals, exhibited more distinct and modern nuances the cello could produce. Combined with folk elements, trills in high register and dissonance harmony depicted birdsongs.
Perhaps the audience's favourite was Johann Strauss Jr's delightful Pizzicato Polka. An exuberant, dance-like polka was conducted with free fall and bended rubato. Although enhancing the joy with a triangle, it was rather tricky for the young players to catch the beat. The world premier work, From Time To Time, written especially for the orchestra by Thai composer Wiboon Trakulhun had a deep, dark and contemplative mood.
The latter part of the programme was lighthearted with arrangements of Michelle and Yesterday by The Beatles, and Scott Joplin's The Entertainer, before ending with the catchy tune from the famous Pink Panther movies.
The Thai Cellissimo received a big round of applause. Credit goes to supporters, musicians, families and friends, and especially to the leader and organiser, Apichai Leamthong. It would be interesting and wonderful if next year we could hear renditions of traditional Thai songs performed by the orchestra, since Apichai also possesses great skills and knowledge of traditional Thai music.