Feb 10, 2010 at 7:30, Thailand Cultural Centre: tickets 200, 500, 1000

I am three times a stranger: a Czech to the Austrians, an Austrian to the Germans, and a Jew to the world….
                                                                                                 Gustav Mahler

     Somtow Sucharitkul, artistic director of the Bangkok Opera, has been a devoted Mahlerian since he saw Otto Klemperer conduct Mahler’s monumental Ninth Symphony at the age of 13 in Paris.  He became the first conductor to perform the Fourth with a professional (non-student) orchestra in Thailand, and in 2009 he has inaugurated a complete Mahler cycle with the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra.

     The cycle was launched with the Fifth Symphony to unprecedented success, echoing the Spectator’s comment that the immense and rising popularity of Mahler is one of the three most significant trends in classical music in the last hundred years.  Of Somtow’s interpretation of Mahler, Frederic Chaslin, resident conductor of the Vienna State Opera, said, “Somtow is one of the few Asians I know who really understands Mahler.”

     The Mahler Cycle has been a major focus point for some of Thailand’s finest musicians, who have come together for this labor of love in spite of the many difficulties, logistical and financial, of putting on such a huge project.

     On Feb 10, the cycle continues at the Thailand Cultural Center with Mahler’s Ninth.  The Ninth, a massive meditation on death, passion, and love, is an intense and moving work.

     Curiously, the work begins with a musical figure which, to any Thai musician, is reminiscent of a famous Thai composition, “Waves Against the Shore”, which also dates from the beginning of the twentieth century.  In fact there is a note-for-note correspondence at the very beginning.

     The strange coincidence prompted Somtow to invite Bruce Gaston’s famous traditional/fusion Thai ensemble to perform this piece (which is classified as an overture or “hom rong”) as a prelude to the Mahler symphony.

     Placing these two pieces together on a concert platform is a historical first and is something that could only have happened here in Bangkok, the cultural crossroads of east and west.

     Tickets for the concert are available from Thai Ticket Major outlets and at at 200, 500, and 1000 baht.  Their number is (02) 262-3456.

     For group rates, call the Bangkok Opera at (02) 231-5273 or email

    You can become a member of Gustav’s Angels, the special friends of the Mahler program, and have your name listed on the program and a special invitation to a reception after the concert co-hosted by the Austrian Embassy, by making a donation of 5,000 baht.  Special VIP seats are reserved for the members of this special group of patrons.  To join, email Somtow Sucharitkul directly at or phone the opera (02) 231-5273.


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