Students from MSU College of Music Performing Arts Department have won the competition for best performance at the annual Isan Long Drum Festival held in Wapi Phatum from December 23 to 25. The successful MSU team was honoured for their win by the Governor of Mahasarakham.
The three day annual event is held in the district of Wapi Phatum , located about forty kilometres from Mahasarkham. The event is well known to Thai people and each year long drum bands travel from all over Isan to attend and compete.
A long drum performance is not confined only to a performance featuring the traditional Isan long drums. It also includes traditional Isan dancers. A long drum troupe can have few or many performers. There is really no limit to the numbers. Performers at the Isan Long Drum Festival are from Isan Universities, High Schools and even from members of the general population of a village.
A feature of this festival, as is similar to many other Isan festival events, is the parade of performers before meeting together at the ground on which they will perform. From the smallest villages to the largest towns, performers will start from a point some kilometres away and walk, dance, perform and generally have a fun time while parading through the village streets to where the actual event will be held. Everybody in the streets along the way turn out to watch and/or join in for a little while.
The best part is everybody is free to join in. One can walk along with the parade, join with the dancing or just sit and watch the colourful, loud and joyous procession pass by.
Isan people just enjoy enjoying themselves and are willing to share their happiness with visitors following the parade. If you are a tourist with a camera you receive many invitations to join in with the fun in the parade or to stop and snack with people sitting watching the parade pass. It leads to much local fun and frivolity when a foreigner stops for a quick bite of som tam (spicy papaya salad) and some sticky rice.
In typical Isan hospitality style it is your choice whether you dance, eat, sit and watch or even find a shady spot somewhere for a quick catnap... and this is just for the parade which may be likened to a warm up event before the serious enjoyment of watching the long drum performances at the main venue. Even though this parade passed mainly through the main streets of Nong Saeng, the hospitality is the same as in any small Isan village when a festival parade is held.
Hospitality and welcoming is not confined solely to Isan culture, but when combined with the excitement and liveliness of Isan music and dance in a traditional parade, makes for a truly unique Isan cultural experience. Unfortunately many tourists visiting Thailand miss out because they do avail themselves of the opportunity to travel to the north east and experience the wonders of traditional Isan culture.
Congratulations to the successful long drum performers from MSU with special thanks to MSU College of Music Performing Arts teachers Mr. Sarawut Chotijamrat and Mr. Kedsiri Noknoi for their hard work in preparing the MSU performers. We look forward to seeing you defend your title in twelve months time.