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On its 20th Anniversary, Festival offers a stunning range of shows from diverse countries, including Asia !

 “This is a historic year for Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music!”


Lekha Shankar

“This is a historic year for Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music, as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary” says Kukoo Uberoi, Chairman of the organizing International Cultural Promotions.

He added “The Festival program reflects how special this landmark is. We have curated a very diverse range of shows, featuring some of the leading companies of the world!”


This year’s Festival, indeed, has a dazzling range of shows from across the globe-Russia, US, Europe, and interestingly, many countries from Asia.

Let’s start with the Music programs.

The Opening show, is the great opera ‘ CARMEN’ performed by the TEATRO DI SAN CARLO from Naples, who are the world’s oldest Opera house , and are coming to Asia for the first time.! The memorable music of the opera by George Bizet will be played out by  the famed TEATRO DI SAN CARLO SYMPHONY AND ORCHESTRA .

Conducting the orchestra, will be none other than legendary maestro  ZUBIN MEHTA !

The famed orchestra will be giving two more concerts where they will enunciate the grand symphonies of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

All the shows will be ‘conducted’ by  Zubin Mehta, a total treat for the classical music buffs of the city,!

The Italian shows are the highlight of the year-long Italian Festival in Thailand, to celebrate the 150th year of Diplomatic Relations with Thailand, which is studded with more than 200 scintillating programs.

To quote the newly arrived Italian Ambassador to Thailand HE Galanti Lorenzo-

I honestly couldn’t think of a more extraordinary way to highlight the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and Thailand than this very special Opening event for music lovers! “

There are three other top orchestras performing at the 2018 Festival, and interestingly, they are all from Asia.

The KOREAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is the leading national theatre orchestra of the country, who give nearly 100 performances every year.  They will be led by their eminent Conductor Chi-Yong Chung, and will also introduce to Thai audiences, the world-famous solo pianist Jiyeong Mun, who has won numerous prizes in Europe. This high-level concert celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Korea and Thailand.

According to the outgoing Ambassador of Korea HE Noh Kwang Il- “I am delighted that the prestigious Korean Symphony Orchestra will perform in Bangkok on the occasion of our 60th anniversary celebration. I hope the friendship and partnership between the two countries, will further develop.”

The HANGZHOU PILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA from China is one of the top five orchestras in the country. The 20-member orchestra will be led by the renowned conductor Yang Yang. Another highlight will be the presence of the celebrated solo violinist Ning Feng, who has performed with the top orchestras of the world.

A unique orchestra at this year’s Festival, is the JU PERCUSSION group from Taiwan, who have lifted percussive music to another level, by playing an amazing range of drums. Their signature concert STUNNING VIRTUOSITY ,which they will perform here, has a stunning repertoire of musical rhythms, from classical to pop, rock, world music, which have taken audiences by storm in more than 30 countries around the world.

In keeping with the grand diversity of the program, there is a MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE, where a brilliant range of singers and dancers will celebrate the 60th birthday of the pop icon, by belting out his best-known songs. The spectacular sets, lighting, costumes, should make this a memorable concert.

The exciting range of dance genres at this year’s Festival, include everything from ballet to tango, flamenco, and even Bollywood.

To quote Uberoi “There’s something for everybody at this year’s Festival!”

The Russian ballets have always been a major highlight of Bangkok’s best-known cultural Festival.

Russian Ambassador HE Kirill Barsky informed that more than 12 top ballet companies and several brilliant opera houses from his country, have performed at the 20-year-old Festival.

At the end of his four-year tenure in Thailand, the aesthete- Ambassador, who has actively promoted Russian culture in the country, was proud that many ‘fabulous’ groups would perform, this year, at the 20th Anniversary of the Festival.

Reminiscencing about the strong ‘Russian’ participation at the Festival, he spoke of the top ballet-groups who played here- Kremlin Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Novosibirsk Ballet Theatre, Moscow Musical Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Ekaterinburg Ballet and Opera Theatre.

He stated that the best Russian opera singers had also performed at the Festival-  Bolshoi Theatre, Chelyabinsk State Opera Theatre, Samara Opera Theatre, Helicon Opera Theatre.

The Ambassador, who is at the end of his four-year tenure in the country, was sure that the performance of the ‘ fantastic’ Moscow State Classical Ballet,this year, would “ strengthen Russian-Thai cultural exchanges and raise the awareness of the Thai ballet lovers about the magnificent heritage of the Russian ballet!”

“There’s something for everyone, even the children, at this year’s Festival -” said Uberoi, referring particularly to the fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, which is being performed for the first time in Bangkok, by the Moscow State Ballet

The SINGAPORE DANCE THEATRE, one of the top dance-companies of the country, is participating for the first time at the Festival.

They will be performing the lush and lovely Wedding sequences from three famous ballets- Sleeping Beauty, Coppelius, Don Quixote, which would doubtless appeal to the young and old, especially  children.

The third ballet group at the Festival, this year, is the famed KARLSRUHE BALLET group from Germany. This globally renowned troupe has dancers from as many as 14 countries!

They will perform an innovative and exciting version of Shakespeare’s memorable comedy   A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complete with grand sets, lighting, and many magical tricks and surprises!

This is another show that will entertain the whole family, and introduce young audiences to the magical world of the greatest ‘Bard’ of all times.

The outgoing German Ambassador to Thailand HE Peter Pruegel, who had been long associated with the Festival, stated “It has been a pleasure to be associated with Bangkok’s premier cultural festival, that is now in its 20th year.  My tenure in Bangkok is over” said the Ambassador “  but I will keep very happy memories of this Festival and the German participation in it.” 

Apart from ballet, there are other dance forms, old and new, and extraordinary dance troupes, at this year’s Festival.

There is a show called BREAK THE TANGO/HIP HOP, which is a brilliant amalgam of tango and hip hop, accompanied by a pulsating, live band. The explosive choreography and sizzling music are the highlights of this show, which will be performed by a pair of world- champion tango dancers, brilliant hip hop artistes, and also award-winning break dancers from Europe and Asia (including from Thailand).

“The Bangkok audience will be in for a treat!” said Swiss Ambassador HE Ivo Sieber, who is co-hosting the Tango-Hip Hop show with the Argentinian Ambassador, since the main dance-pair are a Swiss and Argentinian couple.

Ambassador of Argentina HE Alicia Sonschein said the show was “Very unique and special, and would bring Argentinian tango to an amazing new level!”

Flamenco is a dance-form that the Festival has made very popular in the city. This year, the dynamic LOS VIVANCOS group will present a unique and dazzling show called Born to Dance, combining old and new music rhythms (including groups like Metallica, Deep Purple, Leonard Cohen), together with varied dance forms like   tap dance, martial arts, and even aerial performances!

They have dazzled audiences, in more than 35 countries around the world, and doubtless will knock out Thai audiences too.

The newly arrived Spanish Ambassador HE EMILIO de MIGUEL CALABIA stated ” The Los Vivancos flamenco show is always developing in new directions. It is like the delta of a big river. It has many branches, many faces, but all of them come from the same source!”

The TAJ EXPRESS  group from India are another music-dance ensemble that combine the old and new, with their brilliant amalgam of classical and Bollywood music-and-dance forms. Director Shruti Merchant describes Taj Express as “A path-breaking song, dance and drama extravaganza that will entertain and enthrall audiences of all ages.”

After a tour of UK and US, where they performed to rave audiences, the Indian dance-group are all set to take Bangkok by storm.

Last but not the least, mention must be made of a very unique program, at this year’s Festival- ‘THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN’.

According to Kukoo Uberoi, they are the “The world’s top seven magicians and illusionists from the International Magicians Society of New York, who will perform in Bangkok for the first time!”

Among the big names, are Illusionists like Peter Gossamer (USA), Raul Alegria (Spain), and Magicians like  Rocco Silano (USA), Ariann Black (Canada).

The mega magic show, with its astonishing acts, dazzling sets, music, lighting, are guaranteed to sweep the old and young off their feet.

On its 20th Anniversary, Bangkok’s best-known cultural festival seems to have out-done itself, with a stunning range of shows that would appeal to all ages and tastes.

“ It is a very fitting celebration, for Bangkok’s leading performing arts festival!” stated Kukoo Uberoi with justifiable pride.

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