ACMP Members’ Holiday Music Gatherings

ACMP members gathered and shared music across the globe during the holiday season. Here are three reports for activities in Germany, Japan and Canada. Send your report to jclarke@acmp.net so we can add it to this post.

HALLELUJAH FROM THAILAND by Marjorie Modell (Vc, Excelsior, MN)

“Searching the ACMP Directory for people to make up a quartet or trio in a foreign country can sometimes be frustrating, especially for a cellist who has to find an instrument as well as players. Every now and then a new name appears in a place where I have been before who makes the whole experience very special when I get in contact. About 3 years ago, this happened in Bangkok, Thailand, where I have traveled nearly every December for many years. The name Surachai Chivaphansri, a violinist and violist, suddenly appeared, and when I contacted him I was thrilled to discover that he owns a nice cello. Since then I have visited him at his home, met his family and had delightful sessions with him and other Thai musicians. 

A year ago, Surachai mentioned that he had just played Handel’s Messiah in three performances at three different large churches in Bangkok. He said that they were short on cellists and that perhaps I should come to Thailand in November next year to play in these concerts. Without having to think about it for a second, I replied, “If you are serious, I’ll do it!.” So, this November, there I was at several rehearsals for over 150 singers and an orchestra of 59. This Messiah series of concerts was the 65th anniversary of the Bangkok Combined Choir singing the Messiah, which was joined by the Bangkok International Community Orchestra 10 years ago. It was a spectacular performance. 

In honor of the anniversary, the evening began with Veeraphan Vawklang, who has been the conductor of the Royal Navy Thai Orchestra, doing Handel’s Royal Fireworks, followed by Charunee Hongcharu, conductor of the Bangkok Combined Choir since 2001, conducting the Messiah performances. We performed nearly the whole oratorio each time. At one performance, the parking situation was so difficult that musicians were transported from the Sky Train to the church by tuk tuk, which added to the fun! 

The whole experience of being an obvious minority in a sea of very kind and welcoming Asians playing Handel’s magnificent music endeared by all, was akin to Alice in Wonderland falling into the rabbit hole and ending up in a wonderful unexpected place! This led to invitations to play chamber music and to playing in an orchestra at a wonderful Christmas Eve service at the Maitrichit Chinese Baptist Church in Bangkok Chinatown. The service was bilingual – in Chinese and Thai. I didn’t understand a word, but it was hugely inspirational never the less.

Never in my wildest dreams, as I was playing the Messiah as a teenager in Minneapolis, could I have imagined doing the same thing as a retiree someday on the opposite side of the world, thanks to the ACMP Directory!”

Pictured are ACMP members Surachai Chivaphansri (Va) and Marjorie Modell (Vc)

WELCOMING THE NEW YEAR by Jane Wilson (Vn, Va, Vc, Cb, Nanaimo, BC, Canada)

“I’m well into my 70s now, and every year since I was a young teenager I have started the year making music – usually playing but occasionally singing – in Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, Melbourne, Australia, and for the past few years in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. This year will be no exception. We will have a small chamber orchestra (including 3 gambas and keyboard) and will play Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, No. 5, and No. 6 and lots of concerti grossi. Joining us this year will be a nyckelharpa player to add even more fun to our festivities. As the year rolls over, we will be playing Purcell Fantasia Upon One Note, with all those who think that they don’t play any instrument playing the “one note” (middle C) on violas and cellos that are made available to them. We will ALL be playing when the New Year begins.

Come and join us next year,”

ADVENT MUSIC by Michael Knoch (Fl, Berlin, Germany)

“On the second Sunday of Advent, 28 friends came to our traditional “Advent Music” event. We played J. S. Bach, Hirtensinfonie – No. 10 from the Christmas Oratorio – framed by two chorales No. 9 and No. 23; Corelli, Concerto grosso fatto per la notte di natale; Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 6; two of the Telemann concertos for four violins without bass; Pachelbel’s famous canon; and additional (smaller) pieces. We opened the afternoon with the first movement of Bach’s Triple Concerto BWV 1044 in our own version for piano, two flutes and string quartet. Throughout the afternoon, there were lots of cookies, cake, and stollen, and at the end of the evening – as a savory counterpoint – a bowl of squash soup was offered.”

MUSIC GATHERING IN PORTLAND, OR, by Martha Pressler (Vc, Portland, OR)

On Dec. 23, there was a chamber music gathering here in Portland…there were just four of us, but the onus for the event was the holiday visit of the mother of the host violinist. She has been an accomplished chamber pianist and the initiator of several chamber music programs in universities where she lived along the way (she is in her 80’s at present). What really got us together was the fact that she can’t have music in the home where she lives currently. Besides the joy that those of us playing had, what we did meant so much to this dear lady whose life has had such a musical focus

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