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MUS 311 “Thai” Ensemble Returns this Spring 2022

Chi Suwicha Phatthaphraiwan playing tehnaku (Karen 6-string harp)

In collaboration with the East-West Center and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, MUS311 “Thai” Ensemble* will return this Spring 2022 and we’ll be joined late in the semester by Artist-in-Residence & indigenous activist/musician/scholar Chi Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan.** In honor of Chi’s residency, the ensemble will focus on traditional Karen music, and will be structured along the same DIY/recycled instrument making motif as before.

Whether for credit, as a requirement of your major, or to learn more about the wonderful world of music, you/ your friends/ your students are encouraged to join us for MUS311 next spring. 

Why join this ensemble? Pick your bullet point:

  • We make our own instruments (Check out past projects, classes, and workshops on our instagram #MUS311)
  • We make instruments with everyday, salvaged, and recycled materials (boba straws? PVC pipes? tin cans? nails? yes, yes, and yes)
  • We make instruments in consultation with traditional folk practitioners in rural Thailand, learning repertoire from the same
  • We learn local and localized notation systems, using cipher and solmization (kodaly reinforcement for you Music Ed majors!)
  • We will be joined by world-famous indigenous Pgaz k’Nyau artist/scholar/activist Chi Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan and his wife, Khuewa, who will be here on EWC visiting artist residency (learn more about their work here: Ethnic Equality Through Music: Chi Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan / University Professor, Social Artivist -| NHK)
  • We celebrate the PLAY in music (hands-on, performative, interactive). All are welcome to join! No previous experience required; all musical capabilities appreciated.

Past performances: see the pre-covid ensemble Pau Hana performance of Akha Ya Ma (an anthem of Akha pride and unity) here

Course: MUS311 (“Thai” Ensemble)*
Day/time: Mondays, 3:00-5:00pm
Room: MB114 (adjacent to Gamelan room, but also out in the courtyard as needed)
CRN: 89736 (1-credit)
Delivery: live, in-person, responsibly distanced

*Why the quotation marks around “Thai”, you ask? Well, our visiting artist (info in the next paragraph) is from Thailand, but he is ethnically Karen (Pgaz k’Nyau)–a stateless indigenous population found mostly within in the modern-day borders of the nation-states of Burma and Thailand. We’ll learn more about that nuance in the class.

** “Chi” Suwichan Phatthanaphraiwan holds a Ph.D. in Art and Culture Research from Srinakharinwirot University. He is an internationally-renowned musician, activist, and assistant professor of Geo-Cultural Management at Bodhivijjalaya College, Srinakharinwirot University in Mae Sod, Tak. He has published two books on Pgaz k’Nyau (Karen) music, Rao Khue Tehnaku [I am Tehnaku] (2011) and Phleng Tawng Haam Khawng Pgaz k’Nyau [Forbidden Songs of the Karen] (2014), is actively involved in the Karen Network for Culture and the Environment, serves as vice president of the Foundation for Culture and Environment, Southeast Asian chapter (FCESA), Chairperson of ASEAN Ethnic Creative Foundation (AEC), and recently co-founded the Karen Community Eco museum in the Thai/Burma border city of Mae Sot. His ongoing project focuses on infusing Karen knowledge and culture into mainstream Thai educational institutions.