Arts and culture is, in my opinion, lacking and lagging for a major metropolitan city such as Bangkok. A lot of it attribute to the more gaudy nature of its attractions. Nonetheless, there is a fledgling performing arts scene that is growing and can only get better.
The Bangkok Symphony Orchestra (thereby referred as BSO, not to be confused with an internationally famous Boston Symphony Orchestra from my hometown) reminds me of my philharmonic youth orchestra. But I don’t laugh at them. The feature Thai-born soloists who perform in the international circuits. And their ability to invite many international musical stars such as Sir James Galaway, Renee Fleming, Sarah Brightman and YoYo Ma serves as a harbinger for the orchestra’s potential.
The best part is their Concert in the Park, offered on Sundays in the cooler months of December and January. The orchestra performs in Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s smaller equivalent of Central Park. The free concerts invite the public to grab a picnic basket and blanket, and enjoy the music to end their weekends. The concept is not unlike the Landmarks on the Esplanade in Boston or the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in DC. For a city/country that has little arts scene, it is a wonderful way to give the public an opportunity to develop and appreciate the classicals.
Below is a video of one such performance. While the orchestra is far from the international calibre, this kind of performance, blending popular music with an instrument of such old Thai tradition as the ranat ek is something unique and beautiful. If they keep this up, it may be worth flying back in ten years to see how their culture scene has developed. Apologies in advance for both the video and music quality. It was all I had in hand when I realized I should record it.