On Friday January 13th, hundreds of employees at the Bangkok Operational Center turned up at the 31st floor lounge to enjoy music performances by their peers in the Thomson Reuters Music Group (TRMG) Music Soirée Soo Flood.
TRMG was formed in 2004 and has held performances at various staff parties throughout the years. Waraluk Lohidhan, HR project coordinator and one of the singers of TRMG said: “When we initially started this event we used the word Soirée because it made the event name sound interesting, but many people had a hard time pronouncing it! The word “Soo” means “to fight” in Thai. We organized the Music Soirée Soo Flood because we knew it would provide a relaxing event for employees to get together. Especially after all the severe flooding we have been through last year.”
Nine groups signed up to perform at the event. Employees were also encouraged to open up a stall to sell foods and drinks. Any profits made were donated to the Rama Foundation for their flood relief works.
“We started the music soirée last year, with the aim to open the floor for staff to showcase their musical talent. Now we know we could make it a charitable event as well,” Waraluk said.
There is a very wide breadth of program tracks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and this afternoon, I attended “The Arts and Our Kids” session, moderated by Damian Woetzel. The three presenters, Aaron Dworkin, David Finckel, and Wu Han are all musicians, and personally, this session was very inspiring given my own personal passion for music. Many times, I think a song can express emotions and feelings far better than words.
Without question, the highlight of the session was hearing about the work that Aaron is doing as the Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization. The aim of the organization is to drive greater participation of Blacks and Latinos in classical music. I was unaware of the fact that only 1-2% of members of symphony orchestras across the United States are Black or Latino.
All of the panelists clearly see a reduction in arts and music education within schools. In fact, as Aaron was talking about his experiences in Detroit, he stated that “Motown could not happen again” in that city given the challenge of providing kids any sort of musical education. Sphinx has a division called Overture where teachers go into Detroit’s underserved communities to deliver a music education program.
What I loved about the program is the drive for excellence that is required of students in the program – and more broadly for musicians. We celebrate a great baseball player who manages to be successful in getting 3 hits out of every 10 times he comes to the plate – a .300 batting average. The best NBA basketball players shoot around 90% from the free throw line. A musician that hits 95% of the right notes and misses the other 5% is going to lead to a very unhappy audience that wants its money back.
The Sphinx Organization demands a level of excellence that is exceptionally high. Everyone in the program has to stand up and perform. There is no favoritism, and a jury decides on awards for students in the program. Aaron mentioned that in one particular year, no one in the jury felt that any of the students were deserving. It is a complete meritocracy, enabling the kids to embrace music, fail in a safe environment, and grow again so that when they audition for an orchestra or apply for Juilliard, they know that they are going to deliver a winning performance. Aaron should be congratulated for the work he has done over the last fifteen years. (more…)