The Thailand Philharmonic Embarks On Their Phenomenal European Tour

09 ก.ย. 2565

The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra departed for Budapest on the 27th of August 2022, embarking on their European Tour and carrying with them the pride of not only the College of Music, Mahidol University, but the whole of Thailand. Although they have toured many of Thailand’s Southeast Asian neighbours and even countries like Japan before, this is no small journey as they are making their first debut at some of the most iconic concert halls in all of Eastern Europe. These are the same halls that hosted some of the world’s most well-known orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and many other prestigious names in the orchestral world. The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra will be making their mark on the international stage, placing its reputation among the top orchestras of the world despite the fact that the orchestra began only sixteen years ago. This European tour is proof of the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra’s growth. “The Berlin Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic have been around for more than a hundred years, but we have formed only sixteen years ago. To get this opportunity to play in the same concert halls that those big names play in is indicative of our tremendous growth over the past sixteen years and the potential we possess” —Dr. Daren Robbins, Manager of the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra and French Hornist.

The Thailand Philharmonic is performing in Budapest, Hungary on the 28th of August; Ljubljana, Slovenia on the 29th of August; and Wrocław, Poland on the 1st of September while participating in the Italian Cultural Institute in the Budapest Festival, Ljubljana Festival, and International Festival Wratislavia Cantans, respectively. Many important guests are expected to attend the concerts that are to be performed in these venues, including the representatives of the Thai embassy in Austria, Hungary, and Poland, and the SCG sponsors’ representatives in Slovenia. 

The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing pieces by American, Polish, and Thai composers in this very multi-cultural concert. The two jazzy American pieces, An American in Paris by George Gershwin and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, are very popular works that are sure to capture the interests of European audiences since European orchestras don’t often perform such works. These pieces were also selected in order to fulfill the festival’s requests. The European piece featured in the program is the virtuosic Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor by Henryk Wieniawski, with the superstar violinist Kristóf Baráti playing the violin solo. But the piece that the Thailand Philharmonic is really looking forward to performing is Dr. Narong Prangcharoen’s best-known work, Phenomenon, as a testament to not only their own skill as an orchestra but also the skill of one of Thailand’s greatest composers. “Phenomenon was inspired by mysterious and unexplainable natural phenomena, such as the Aurora Borealis, the Bolides, and, especially, the Naga Fireballs of Thailand. My intent is to express the atmosphere and sensations of such a natural phenomenon.” —Dr. Narong Prangcharoen, TPO composer-in-residence and dean of the College of Music, Mahidol University. Phenomenon is an incredible orchestral work that is perfect for showing off the phenomenal musical prowess of the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra has even prepared two surprise pieces to be played as an encore, a movement from Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite and a popular Thai folk song called Lao Duang Doen arranged by Col. Prateep Suphanrojn.

Maestro Alfonso Scarano has played a key role in enabling this tour to happen. He has always been a strong believer in the potential of his beloved orchestra and knew that they deserved to be performing on the same stages where many of the world’s greatest had performed. He had been constantly encouraging the orchestra to take this tour for many years, and in 2019, the team had finally made steps to make this a reality. Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck, bringing the 2019 tour to a halt. The project was reinitiated in 2020 and 2021, but the ongoing pandemic had repeatedly thrown a wrench in their plans. This wasn’t the only challenge they were facing though. As COVID died down and places began to open up in 2022, there was yet another challenge that posed a large threat to their plans: the Ukrainian war crisis. Fortunately, even though the three countries that they are to tour are neighbors to Ukraine, the organizers have ensured that the concerts will continue uninterrupted by the war. However, the effects of the war, such as the fuel hikes, had caused the expenditure for this trip to double in amount, and that made it incredibly hard to fund the whole tour. But with the help of Dr. Prangcharoen, who took an active interest in finding more generous sponsors to fund the unexpected extra costs, things were finally set in place to make this entire trip possible, once again.

The members of the Thailand Philharmonic are especially looking forward to representing their country and showing the world just how good an orchestra from Thailand can be. They hope that this opportunity to tour these major concert halls of Europe will lead to several more in the future. The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra will undoubtedly wow Europe on this eventful trip.