Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ayutthaya Choir! Blending Cultures

Ayutthaya Branch choir in shepherd costumes for district concert
Our branch pulled together and sang at our district Christmas program Dec 14. We sang a song I wrote entitled "The Son of God, the Messiah" and added eight Thai instruments called angalung. The challenge with angalung is they are whole-step scale instruments, each playing a single note as would a bell, but not our western scale. We had to work with the scale to find a key for the song that best suited the instruments. I secretly worried that someone who was well educated about the instrument would think we were crazy to combine voice, piano, violin, and western civilization music with the ancient instruments.

The program listed us the second choir from the last to sing. There was no applause during the first ten numbers. When it was our turn, we lined up in the choir loft, and when angalung players held up their instruments, a delighted gasp rippled through the chapel.

The restless audience hushed. Elder Gibbons cued us and we began. (My hands shook so much I could hardly play the piano.) Our 14 year-old violinist played beautifully. The choir sang with full hearts "He is the Son of God, the Messiah!". I was proud of them. And at the last note, with relief, I knew we had done our best.

But the more delightful part--a few hands began clapping in the audience, then the whole congregation burst into applause. For a no-applause concert, we were all surprised!

It was the angalung that made it special. The Thais love their history--and bringing an instrument of their own culture into a concert where adaptation to another culture was clearly portrayed--they saw the two cultures blended in celebrating the birth of our Savior.

1 comment:

  1. That is so awesome! I would love to hear it. You didn't record it did you? I also love how the Lord brings the right people together with the right talents to lift the hearts of all. I remember special christmas and other music performances I got to be a part of in the old Lehi 7th ward under your direction. There is a wonderful pure sweet spirit that come from music. Thanks for blessing us all with yours!