Diva Delight

Thailand Tatler - Tuesday, June 01, 2004

It is not often that Thai audiences have the opportunity to attend world-class musical performances in Bangkok. So when the Thai Toshiba Group of Companies organised a concert by one of the world's greatest sopranos, Jessye Norman, it was a sold-out affair. Presented as part of the International Peace Foundation's first series of activities, Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace, which has brought Nobel laureates, artists and keynote speakers to Bangkok, the occasion was also to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit's sixth cycle birthday this year. Also participating as co-organisers were the Bangkok Opera and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.

The evening started for VIP guests with a cocktail reception on the second floor of the Thailand Cultural Centre, venue for the concert. Chairman of the Toshiba Group Dr Korn Suriyasat and vice president of Toshiba Thailand Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul led the family to welcome guests. Other family members included Thanan and Kanit Muangkrachang and Kalayarat, Lisa and Karnak Suriyasat. Somtow Sucharitkul of the Bangkok Opera, Atchara Tejapaibul of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and Uwe Morawetz of the International Peace Foundation were also on hand co greet their many distinguished guests.

The auditorium doors were opened for concert goers to find their seats before the arrival of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana. Soon after, Her Majesty the Queen's limousine drew up and Her Majesty alighted, resplendent in a dark-coloured evening gown with a lace top. After being introduced to those in the reception line by Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Her Majesty was escorted to the concert hall. At the request of Jessye Norman, the air-conditioning was turned off at the start of the concert and resumed after the performance. No one complained because without the air-conditioning every single impressive note could be heard quire clearly. At the end of the performance, which included pieces by Richard Strauss, Manuel dc Falla and Georges Bizet, the enthusiastic audience refused to let the singer off the stage until she had performed an encore.