Celebrating 20 years of Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music, running from September 12th to October 18th
The country’s most significant cultural festival begins this month, and it is a landmark year for Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music, which celebrates 20 years of hosting some of the world’s most celebrated and talented artists, and this year, the event promises a schedule of performances like no other.
To celebrate this landmark anniversary, two legends from the world of music—San Carlo Opera from Naples and the multi-awarded conductor Zubin Mehta—are offering a veritable feast to festival-goers over four nights, two of which will be devoted to opera, and two to symphony concerts. These four performances will mark the grand opening of the five-week-long dance and music festival, which is scheduled from September 12th to October 18th at the Thailand Cultural Centre.
The opera Carmen will be the opening performance on September 12th by the San Carlo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mehta. On September 13th, the orchestra will play Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No.3; Symphony No. 9 with chorus and singers, and on September 15th, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4”; “Symphony No 6.
On September 16th, the Ju Percussion Group, from Taipei, will perform an evening of stunning virtuoso drumming, and powerful and passionate percussion. The musical shows effortlessly blends tradition and modernity in what is a not-to-be-missed performance filled with energy and noise. Following this is a two-night performance on September 19th and 20th in which you’re sure to be wowed—perhaps even baffled—by The Magnificent 7, who include performers from The International Magicians Society’s Top Seven Magicians and Illusionists of The World. From magic and illusion to eclectic dances, Break the Tango/Hip-Hop is an epic mix of dance, performaning for two nights on September 22nd and 23rd.
Monday, September 24th sees one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation, Chi-Yong Chung with the Korean Symphony Orchestra. The performance features acclaimed piano soloist Jiyeong Mun, who is the winner of the Geneva International Competition in 2014 and the Busoni International Competition in Italy in 2015. She also won the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in 2009, the Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists in Germany in 2012 and the Takamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan in 2014.
The schedule returns to ballet on September 26th with a performance by the Singapore Dance Theatre who are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a series of classic wedding scenes from famous ballets including: Coppelia Act 3; Sleeping Beauty Act 3; and Don Quixote Act 3. The company has performed at several world-class performing arts venues to wide acclaim. Every year in Singapore, the Singapore Dance Theatre performs to the delight of ballet fans; every performance cementing the love of ballet in the hearts of the audience.
Closing the September events sees a two-night production of the Bollywood musical extravaganza, Taj Express. The powerful and vibrant musical follows the story of ones man’s passion and another man’s genius. Young composer Shankar struggles with his music, and it’s only when he begins to follow in the footsteps of his idol, A.R. Rahman that he discovers his path to success. Taj Express rhythmically blends explosive dance with the hits of India’s most iconic composers and is brought to life by the stars of Bollywood cinema and its greatest musicians performing live on stage. It is set to an unforgettable soundtrack featuring the songs of Oscar winner A.R. Rahman.
Events in October begin on the 1st of the month with the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra lead by the conductor Yang Yang and violin soloist Ning Feng. Based in Berlin, Ning Feng is internationally celebrated for his great lyricism and awe-inspiring technique. He is a recipient of the Hanover International prize and winner of Queen Elizabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions.
Also performing as part of the special anniversary celebrations will be the Moscow State Classical Ballet—supported by the Embassy of Russia—with three exceptional performances led by choreographers Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasilyov. They will present three famous Russian ballets on the stage: Freebird and Rite of Spring (October 5th); Nutcracker, Classical Ballet in Two Acts (October 6th); and The Legend of Swan Lake and The Ugly Duckling (October 7th). The Moscow State Classical Ballet is called, the “Ensemble of Stars,” as their soloists are much in demand for international ballet competitions. They have won 19 gold medals, received five prizes and 2 Grand Prix of the Paris Academy of Dance. The company has been granted the title of “Academic Theatre,” by the Russian government and has performed in more than 30 countries around the world and over 200 cities in Russia.
To celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday this year, a special tribute concert will take place on October 8th to honour the world’s greatest entertainer. A fantastic band and dancers back this stunning, not-to-be-missed theatrical concert and features some of “The King of Pop’s” greatest hits, with a set list including hits from solo albums like Thriller, as well as his early chart-toppers with the Jackson 5. “Although Michael Jackson can never again be reached by us, we want to come very close to the icon with our show,” said Oliver Forster, the former co-producer of the show. “With a sensational stage setting, spectacular show effects, impressive dance choreography and large number of costumes we want to create a pure goose flesh feeling.”
The Karlsruhe Ballet from Germany will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream on October 14th followed by a star-studded Gala Performance on October 15th promising an unforgettable evening with the best soloists from the Karlsruhe Ballet Company. This remarkable production by one of Europe’s most renowned dance companies will feature extracts from various classical ballets.
Closing the festival this year on October 18 will be Born to Dance, blending some of the all-time great musical legends into one spectacular show. This impressive new production of extreme flamenco fusion extravaganza was created by the award-winning group, Los Vivancos; brothers who have appeared in more than 35 countries performing for over one million spectators worldwide. Born To Dance has tap-dance, humour, martial arts, musical virtuosity and aerial-performances that converge with flamenco, symphonic, metal scores and live musical interpretations. In addition to this, the avant-garde wardrobe design and a daring technical production turns dance into a near balancing-act-performance. The show is an audacious display of spectacular athleticism, great technical virtuosity and artistic eclecticism.
The 20th International Festival of Dance & Music takes place at the Thailand Cultural Centre, from September 12th to October 18th, 2018. To see the full schedule visit www.bangkokfestivals.com and to order tickets visit
‘ASIAN’ programs to celebrate the 2018 International Festival of Dance & Music
This is a historic year, and we have curated a very diverse program,” said Kukoo Uberoi, Chairman of International Cultural Promotions, which organises the yearly International Festival of Dance and Music, easily the biggest and best cultural festival in the country.
This year, the Festival celebrates its 20th year, and they have a very special program lined up. Apart from top music and dance groups from Europe, Russia, the US, there are many performances from Asia. In fact, it’s probably the largest number of Asian performances to ever feature at the two-decade-long Festival.
The ‘Asian’ performances this year are from Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore and India. The Korean Symphony Orchestra, which performs on the 24th September, is the top national theatre orchestra in the country. The orchestra boasts a world-famous Conductor, Chi Yong-Chun, and the show here will bring outstanding piano soloist Jiyeong Mun, who has won numerous awards in Europe. After all, the Bangkok-performance celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Korea and Thailand.
The 120-member Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra from China, who will perform on the 1st October, is one of the top orchestras in the country. The Bangkok performance is noteworthy because it features world-famous solo violinist Ning Feng, who’s based in Berlin and has won numerous awards as well as played with the top orchestras of the world.
The JU Percussion Group from Taiwan, who will perform on the 16th September, is a unique and outstanding percussion group, known as ‘Taiwan’s ‘Brand Performing Arts Group’. They have performed in more than 30 countries of the world and knocked out global audiences by their flamboyant style and powerful drumming. Their percussive instruments include drums, marimbas, gongs, and their East-West musical rhythms include classical, modern, pop, world music, all of which will be on display in their famed ‘Stunning Virtuosity’ concert, which they will play in Bangkok.
The Singapore Dance Theatre, who will perform on the 26th September, is the premier dance company of the country. Led by Artistic Director Janek Schergen, their program entitled Classical Wedding will feature the gorgeous wedding-sequences from three famous classical ballets: Coppelia, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty (the famed Act 3 of each).
Last but not the least, is Taj Express from India, who will perform, on the 28th and 29th September. This is a spectacular Bollywood musical, played out by a group who have ample experience in the Bollywood film industry. Director Shruti Merchant and choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant have been associated with various Bollywood films, while writer Toby Gough has been associated with many international musicals. The lead performers are award-winning Indian dancers, and their show has dazzled audiences around the world.
The story centres around a youngster who’s struggling with his muse until he hears the music of famed musical composer A.R. Rahman which changes his life. Also, the musical drama incorporates the best songs of Oscar-winning Indian music composer Rahman (for Slumdog Millionaire), which in many ways constitute the best songs of Bollywood films!
The songs are accompanied by lavish sets, costumes, sound, lighting, in the best of Bollywood traditions. In fact, Bollywood superstars like Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan have urged audiences to watch this ‘one of a kind Indian musical!’
“Even for someone who hasn’t watched a Bollywood film, the show is guaranteed to have a great evening’s entertainment!” says Director Shruti Merchant, who describes Taj Express as “A path-breaking song, dance and drama extravaganza that will entertain and enthral audiences of all ages.” In fact, on its 20th Anniversary, the Festival with its diverse, dynamic programs, especially from Asia, promises to be very special, indeed. by Lekha Shankar
For more information, please see www.bangkokfestivals.com and www.thaiticketmajor.com