COURTESY ROYAL THAI FINE ARTS DEPARTMENT
Dancers from the official performing arts ensemble of the Royal Thai government will perform the Khon mask dance this weekend at two concerts.
A royal gift
Festivities mark the anniversary of U.S.-Thai relations and the dedication of a pavilion at East-West Center
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand normally spends her days on development projects in the areas of health and hygiene, education, water-resource development and agriculture. But she's taking a break from all that, and to visit the University of Hawaii-Manoa for the dedication of a new Royal Sala Thai. Sirindhorn's visit commemorates the 175th anniversary of formal relations between America and Thailand.
» "An International Affair": Dinner, bazaar and silent auction, 5 p.m. Friday, Hilton Hawaiian Village. Tickets are $200, to benefit East-West Center programs for international students. Call 944-7196 or visit eastwestcenter.org/events.|
» Royal Sala Thai dedication: 10:30 a.m. Saturday, adjacent to Imin Center-Jefferson Hall. Call 944-7111.
» Concert: With the Royal Thai dancers and musicians, 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, Imin Center-Jefferson Hall. Cost is $15; $12 students, seniors and military. Call 550-8457 or visit honoluluboxoffice.com.
The original pavilion was a gift from her parents, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, who dedicated it in 1967. The pavilion fell into disrepair and was replaced in 2006 under the auspices of the king. The new structure, assembled by a crew of traditional craftsmen sent from Thailand, is made of rosewood and teak painted with gold, said William Feltz, coordinator of the East-West Center arts program.
"It's one of very few royal salas located outside of Thailand. It's a symbol of our longtime relationship with Thailand. More than 3,000 Thai nationals have studied at the East-West Center in the past 47 years," he added.
"The sala had humble beginnings. It was used in the rice fields so farmers could take a break, eat a meal or socialize," Feltz explained. The sala at the East-West Center has been "used over the years by UH students for studying, contemplation and socializing."
The dedication ceremony will include traditional hula and chant and a performance by traditional musicians and dancers from Thailand. The Thai performers are from the official performing arts ensemble of the Royal Thai government in Bangkok. During concerts on Saturday and Sunday, the troupe will demonstrate both classical and folk styles from the diverse regions of Thailand, including the Khon mask dance.
Since the five musicians and six dancers are from the official government troupe, they are among Thailand's best performers, Feltz said.
The musicians are led by Dr. Sirichaicharn Fackjamroon, who studied ethnomusicology at the East-West Center in 1975. Feltz added, "He trained the princess in traditional Thai music in private Sunday morning lessons."
Sirindhorn also will attend a banquet on Friday night, accepting the East-West Center's Asia Pacific Community Building Award on behalf of her father, in recognition of his work for Thai people.