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Birthday among friends

Sad songs but high spirits at very special fund-raising concert

It was no an ordinary concert. For one of the singers participating in ``My Songs, My Country'' was none other than the president of the Privy Councillor, senior statesman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. And the audience included Her Majesty the Queen and top figures from the Privy Council, military and business circles.

The charity concert featured songs written by Gen Prem and served as a launching pad for his CD entitled Karuna, produced by GMM Grammy and on sale since early this month. Both the CD and the concert are raising funds to support projects under the Gen Prem Tinsulanonda Foundation.

Turning up to give warm support were the prime minister's wife, Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, Chaoren Pokphand boss Dhanin Chearavanont, Bangkok Bank chairperson Chatri Sophonpanich and Singha beer tycoon, Dr Piya Bhirombhakdi. Among the Army top brass were Defence Minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya and Army chief Somtat Uttanun. Many took the opportunity to say ``happy birthday'' to the singer of the night. The concert was held on Gen Prem's 83rd birthday.

The tone of the concert was melancholic as most the songs were about broken hearts, though the melodies were sweet and playful at times.

The concert gathered together the best of voices, featuring award-winning singers like Nanthida Kaewbuasai, Suchart Chawangkul, Sama Suaysod, Apipu Sorapimai, Maj Dr Viphu Kamlerddee, and Voratai Pakdivijit, as well as leading talents like Orawi Sajjanon and Palapol Polkongseng.

The loving mood was added to by sweet dance repertoires from the students of Aree Dance School.

The Royal Thai Army Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Lt Prateep Suwannaroj provided impressive musical accompaniment. It was when Gen Prem came up on stage to sing that the audience's attention was really stirred. He sang Khor Sanya and another favourite, Yod Doi, and he jammed with younger singers for Unforgettable and the finale; the cheerful, rousing, Plern Pleng Rak, which made everyone feel good.

Asked why he wrote love songs, Gen Prem, who is single, said he believed love was a beautiful and pure thing. And the warm reception he received that evening proves that he is still a much-loved figure.

Ref: Bangkok Post

Prem Tinsulanonda Center for International Education, Chiang Mai, Kingdom of Thailand