Kent State's Thai Ensemble Travels to Los Angeles for Rare Performance
On the weekend of March 11 and 12, the Kent State University Thai Ensemble traveled to Los Angeles to participate in a conference to highlight the restoration of the UCLA Thai music instrument collection donated in the 1960s by David Morton. While there, they performed as part of the conference and were able to experience a world-class performance by house musicians of the National Theatre in Bangkok during a traditional wai khru ceremony.
The two-day conference began with performances on Saturday by musicians from the Los Angeles community, Chicago and the newly established Thai Ensemble at UCLA. Kent State’s own Thai Ensemble also was featured. Sunday was dedicated to the performance of the wai khru ceremony. This ritual, meant to formalize the student-teacher relationship, is common in Thailand but is rarely performed elsewhere, and even more rarely performed on such a large scale as the conference. With 15 pieces in total, it is a complex ritual where every piece of music and action has significance.
“It was truly an opportunity for our students to see the music they are learning performed at the highest level,” says Andrew Shahriari, associate professor of ethnomusicology at Kent State.
The performances and ceremony were live-streamed online through the Thai Consulate and also broadcast on national television stations in Thailand.