Music for a beloved Princess

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn celebrates her 60th birthday next Thursday and all over the country Thais will be marking this momentous event in song.

Several songs have been composed in honour of the occasion, among them "Chao Fah Khong Khon Dern Din", a collaborative effort of the Mass Communication Organisation of Thailand (MCOT) and the record label Sahaphap Dontri (Music Reunion).

There's also "Naree Rattana", which is produced by major entertainment company RS Public.

And the Culture Ministry has created five songs available for download for Her Royal Highness' birthday. They are "Maha Chakri Sathit Nai Jai Pracha", "Phra Raj Kumaree Srinatha", "In Honour of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn", "Dang Saifon" and "Somdej Phra Thep Ming Khwan Thai".

"Writing songs for the monarchy is not easy as all the lyrics must be carefully considered," says noted composer Nitipong "Dee" Honark of Sahaphap Dontri. "My feelings and loyalty to the Princess are reflected in 'Chao Fah Khong Khon Dern Din'."

Nitipong was joined in his endeavour by Arthit Sarachutha, Jackrawut Swangpol and Katanyoo Tungmepol with Apisit Na Takuatung, Charnwut Boonyam and Niwat Armsang pooling their talents.

More than 70 artists contributed to the recording of "Chao Fah Khong Khon Dern Din", which was spread over three days.

They include Nattaporn "Taew" Tameeruks, Tanchanok "Patricia" Good, Wansiri "Bua" Ongumpai, Teeradetch "Alek" Metavarayuth, Patchara "Foam" Nampan, Thrisadee "Por" Sahawong, Ekkaphong "First" Jongketkon and Wanchana Sawasdee from Channel 3; Usamanee "Kwan" Waitayanon, Varitthisa Limthammahisorn, Morakot "Aimee" Kittisara, Panthita "Sammy" Cowell, Thanwa Suriyajak and Apisada "Ice" Kruakongka from Channel 7 and Monchanok "Mo" Saengchaipiangpen from Exact.

They were joined by TV talent-show stars Natnatcha "Ann" Numcharoensom from "True Academy Fantasia" and Arunpong "Dew" Chaiwinit and Suparuj "Ruj" Techatanon from "The Star".

"It's a great honour and privilege for me to be part of this song. I hear the lyrics and I can't hold back my tears," says singer-actress Naowarat Yuktanan.

"I once had a chance to sing a luk thung song in front of the Princess and was also granted time to talk to her.

"I remember her saying that she had been singing luk thung since she was young child and that whenever she couldn't remember the lyrics, she would open up the songbook she carried around with her," says Sirintra Niyakorn.

"The Princess also writes luk thung songs. She is very concerned about the music and the masters of the genre.

"I was surprised to learn that she knew a master who has written songs for me."

Actress Panadda Wongphudee also has fond memories of meeting the Princess.

"I was part of a team building a house for tsunami victims in Phang Nga when the Princess came to visit.

"It was pouring rain but she didn't hesitate to walk towards us. I remember how people shed tears of joy," she says.

Kornkamol Chaiwatanamethin of Laongfong recalls how she saw the Princess walking out of the Chulalongkorn University Bookstore.

"Everybody was crawling on their knees and prostrating themselves at her feet as the Princess made her way to the palace.

"I was delighted to see the Princess allow some of them to take her picture. She is really the Princess of people," she says.

Speaking at a recent press conference at Siam Discovery, Dr Sumet Tantivejkul, secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation, shared his stories about the Princess.

"A high-ranking German official, who has met the Princess many times, said that he knew that the Princess' [nickname Phra Thep] meant 'angel'.

"He has heard stories about angels since he was a child but never knew if they actually existed.

"At the end of his speech, he said, "But if anyone asked me right how who the angel is, I would say without hesitation that it is Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn."

The RS Public tribute song "Naree Rattana" is written by Suthipong Sombatchinda, with music by Alarm 9's Dechanat "Note" Teeraduriyasarit and arranged by Jesada Suktramorn.

It is inspired by the Princess' story "Dern Taam Roy Thao Phor" ("In the Footsteps of My Father"), and recounts how the Princess shoulders the burdens of Thais and speaks of her royal duties under the guidance of His Majesty the King.

"There's a sense of Thainess in the melody to portray the Princess's royal duties. One of these is to serve as a patron of culture.

"The arrangement is simple but powerful with an invigorating string session and the sound of the ranad [xylophone], which will remind people of the Princess's talent for this instrument," Dechanat says.

The artists contributing to this song are singer Thanaporn "Parn" Waekprayoon and one of four commentators on the Channel 3 talent show "The Voice Kids Thailand", along with a cappella group Alarm 9, Lalita "Noey Senorita" Singtothong, Patra "Patto" Chatborirak, Suquan Bulakul and Thanavate "Gap" Siriwattanakul.

"Everyone can appreciate the lyrics of the song which are very easy to understand. I would like all Thai people to sing this song together for the Princess who works hard and dedicates herself to people," says Parn.

The Culture Ministry rounded up many National Artists to pay tribute to the Princess.

National Artist for Literature Khunying Kullasap Gesmankit penned "Maha Chakri Sathit Nai Jai Pracha" to music by National Artist composer Dr Sirichaichan Fukchumroon.

"Phra Raj Kumaree Srinatha" is by Namtan Nampetch with vocals by National Artist singer Chinnakorn Krailas.

"In Honour of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn" is penned by Chayamon Sa-nganate and the Suntaraporn Big Band, and sung by Suntaraporn New Wave singers led by Pornsulee Wichawej.

"Dang Saifon" is penned by National Artist writer Khunying Vinita Dithiyont and the Suntaraporn band and also sung by Pornsulee, while "Somdej Phra Thep Ming Khwan Thai" is by Doi Inthanon and sung by mor lam artist Noknoi Uraiporn.

"I followed the Princess's suggestion that we should create a new kind of Thai music in writing 'Maha Chakri Sathit Nai Jai Pracha'.

"The lyrics are much more precise and the drawn-out vocals last only for four minutes, making it easier on the ears," says Dr Sirichaichan.

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