The Temple of Dawn Consort
by Dnu Huntrakul
When meeting new people, I am often greeted with
the question: when is the Temple of Dawn Consort going to
perform again? After 24 years since the resounding day of
the music group, which included myself and friends, the question
hits me as a surprise. Always. And every time it makes me
wonder, not without great pleasure, how an impression made
by music can possibly last so long.
In 1976, freshly back from long years of music
studies in the U.S. and the Netherlands, I quickly found an
audience in the young crowds of Bangkok and did not hesitate
to pour onto them the abundant load of my creation known in
the West as "new music". Our group was an unconventional combination
of instruments that hardly combined, be it in their nature
of sound or in their ethnic associations. New compositions
that flowed from our pens bursted forth with brave new ideas
and almost competed to show off the weirdest concept of sound
that we could create from instruments of various types and
traits, musical and non-musical alike. Western and Thai instruments
were often coupled; electronic devices and sounds were almost
always present; percussionwares spectacularly showcased unexpectable
household items such as pots and pans, glass urns, metal bowls,
bamboo tubes, alarm clock, etc. Facetious as it may sound,
but when we went dry musically, looking into our mothers'
kitchens always gave us new inspirations.
Gaining total support from Dr. Regensberg and
his team at the Goethe Institute, with whom and where our
inventiveness never saw closed door, we ventured into various
kinds of musical activity: house concert, orchestral concert,
multi-media, multi-stage music fare, free improvisation, workshop,
experimentation, etc. We continuously experimented with new
ideas, new concepts of music expression, new directions, new
horizons. Had it to be an all out change for music in this
country? Well, we did not press such demand, but we tremendously
enjoyed our kind of revolution and did not care if we went
to the extreme. We broke rules and made the audience our enemies.
Bad kids we were.
And so was our music. It was indeed the kind of
music that promised to turn your world upside down, to put
you out of context of reality, and, perhaps, to make you mad.
And madly were the receptions both for and against. Confusion
and bewilderment hung heavily on the issue until someone came
up with a simple explanation that it was, for better or for
worse, the same thing as what many Thai artists had been doing
for decades in their abstract paintings.
As it happened, this episode has played a very
important role in charting the direction of subsequent development
of my musical thoughts and commitments. With a music briefcase
in my hand, I have taken to a road so long and winding that
it does not seem to link the beginning and the end. Yet it
does. I was then a big part of the Temple of Dawn Consort.
But today the daring venture has become irrevocably a big
part of me, however remote in time and reference I have come
away. And thus am I constantly reminded.
How then do I answer the greeting question? To
put it simply, I dream of, and am committed to, the day when
I shall reappear on the stage to deliver the best I have to
the loving audience the way I once did. The details may not
be the same. But the central elements in music making shall
be put to force as full as ever. I believe in sharing good
things with people around me. And the best way I can is through
music, thanks to many individuals who have rendered me untiring
support. And thanks to the Goethe Institute who gave me the
opportunity, the time, the space, the encouragement, and kindness,
all as if they had owed it to me.
On the occasion of a timely review of their path,
I wish to express my congratulations on their past success,
and to extend my very best wishes for their brave and worthy
steps into the future of golden culture and enriching harmony
31 May, 2000