Bangkok Post - Saturday, April 09, 2005

Though the audience was scarce due to traffic, and the evening slow to begin, Vanessa-Mae performed with a poise and elegance beyond her mere 25 years. Small and unadorned on the stage, she had a quiet confidence and mystique that beckoned the crowd to draw close. However, once entranced by her unassuming presence, she leaped into a bawdy and passionate piece from her new album Choreography entitled Sabre Dance. With youthful fervour she unleashed the violin upon the auditorium, stunning everyone into listening to her ebullient and daring performance.

It was a brazen start for the night, and one that echoed Maestro Somtow Sucharitkul’s words: “When the lips fall silent, it is music that speaks the language of the heart.”

Somtow is the artistic director of the Bangkok Opera, which co-organised the concert with the International Peace Foundation.

Vanessa-Mae’s performance incited each individual’s desire for understanding and companionship, as the concert was thoroughly about merriment and dispelling past grievances for a few hours.

The Havana Slide mimicked the same madcap frenzy as the first piece, and it was apparent that she was having fun up on the stage, dancing in tune with the music and enjoying the attention from the audience.

Accentuated by red lights that amassed the stage in a warm glow, and the back wall reminiscent of a night sky filled with stars, Vanessa-Mae briefly stopped playing, in one of her many interludes throughout the evening, stood before the microphone and spoke with earnest in her desire to have” people forget their troubles and go on a journey tonight through classical and pop music”.

Held as a cultural highlight to wrap up the “Bridges-Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” series of talk by Nobel laureates and prominent people from around the world, one could not ignore the purpose of the evening’s performance. Proceed from the benefit concert will go towards tsunami relief, in aid of the victims who survived the Andaman tsunami tragedy. The human Development Foundation, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and the Taplamu Elementary School Summer Camp, organized by the Red Cross Organization, are all the charities directly involved with the International Peace Foundation, as well as the “Bridges” series.

At the press conference, Maestro Somtow emphasized the theme of the evening’s concert, for though humans “know that nature is vast, the human mind has been given the power to imagine infinity,” and with this optimism fuelling the performance, Vanessa-Mae’s presence only secured the faith that exists in every individual who seeks sanctuary within his imagination.

Rotating lights from the catwalk somersaulted into brilliant shapes on a white screen, creating a disco-like atmosphere, and as she strolled across the stage washed in pastel lights, it was impossible to look away. She is a professional entertainer, and succeeded in engaging the audience in an electrifying performance, one that calls forth vivacity that is surprising from such a young musician. Whilst there is no denying that Vanessa-Mae is young and this transcends into her interpretation of the violin, however she achieves maturity by her suspect for the instrument, and the intimate symbiosis they share together.

Her style is thoroughly modern, and though faintly reminiscent of a classical education, she embraces all means of experimenting with sound and acoustics, and completes this unlikely relationship with a fresh sense of humor.

Her interpretation of Bach Street Prelude was a dignified aberration of the original composition. With an impish air, kneeling on the stage as she played the violin, and reveling in the changes addressed to the piece, she juxtaposed Bach’s lyricism with foreign and awkward sounds emitted from beer bottles, drumsticks, aluminium sheet, and other bizarre objects to create a haunting dissonance.

Laughing Buddha and Hocus Pocus also breathed a refreshingly tyrannical air on the standards of classical music. Vanessa-Mae introduced an electric violin and proposed the idea that it was a modern instrument, and has evolved to produce sounds that were previously unknown. The notes provoked on the violin were laden with pop influences, and chaotic, and though at times there was discourse in the rhythm, she enthralled the audience with her ambitious want to abandon paradigms and seek beauty in unexpected places.

Her performance that night was filled with subdued electricity, and a wanton zeal to shock and console. Though initiated by violence, the benefit concert was a special event, and Vanessa-Mae’s performance signified peace and hope throughout the nation. For as Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the International Peace Foundation said, “Vanessa-Mae herself has been a bridge between different styles of music and between the different cultures of this world, a world which we are constantly able to create anew towards mutual understanding, cooperation and peace and responsibility, which cannot be left to the elite of a few, but needs the participation of everyone.”