The Thailand HRDs

2016-17 – for string quartet – 70:00 (2 mins/mvt.)


World Premiere: January 15, 2017, Dordrecht, Netherlands
Rosalie de Zeeuw (violin)
Maartje Rosmulder (violin)
Viola Koopman (viola)
Evert-Jan Hekkelman (cello)

Thailand Premiere: January 31, 2017, Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre; February 4, 2017, Think Park, Chiang Mai; February 8, 2017, Prince of Songkla University, Songkhla; February 22, 2017, Mahasarakham University, Maha Sarakham
90s String Quartet

Programme Notes

The Thailand HRDs is a 35-movement string quartet inspired by a photo essay by Luke Duggleby called “For Those Who Died Trying“. Duggleby’s collection details victims of murder in Thailand. All the victims were killed because of their efforts to stop powerful interests who wanted to destroy their community’s environment and impede human rights. Very few charges have ever been laid against the perpetrators in any of these murders.

Each movement is an elegy to the victims featured in each photo in Duggleby’s essay. The music is not intended to be purely melancholic but also have a tinge of defiance that the memory of these heroes still lives on.

The musical themes for each movement are derived from the musical pitches/letters found in the names of the victims (see title of each movement)…sort of their musical DNA implanted in each movement.

– Frank Horvat

Mvt 1 - ChAroEn wAt-Aksorn -  photo by Luke Duggleby/Protection Internationalphoto by Luke Duggleby/Protection International

Movement 1 – ChAroEn wAt-Aksorn

Mr Charoen Wat-Aksorn, 37, was shot dead whilst stepping off a bus after returning from a meeting in Bangkok on 21 June 2004 in Bo Nok, Prachuap Kiri Khan Province. He was a 37 year old President of the Love Bo Nok Association and relentless campaigner against the construction of coal-powered plants in his locality. He remains Thailand’s most well known environmental activist.

Mvt 16 - monthA ChukAEw, prAnEE BoonrAt - photo by Luke Duggleby/Protection Internationalphoto by Luke Duggleby/Protection International

Movement 16 – monthA ChukAEw, prAnEE BoonrAt

Ms. Montha Chukaew, aged 54, and Ms. Pranee Boonrat, aged 50, were shot and killed while they were on their way to a local market on the 19 November 2012. They were members of the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT). The SPFT is a landless peasants’ network formed in 2008 campaigning for the right to agricultural land in the Khlong Sai Pattana community, Chaiburi district, Surat Thani province. The bodies of the women HRDs were mutilated by the gunmen, to intimidate the community further. 

Mvt 27 - somChAi nEElApAijit - photo by Luke Duggleby/Protection International
photo by Luke Duggleby/Protection International

Movement 27 – somChAi nEElApAijit

Mr Somchai Neelapaijit, the renowned Thai Muslim-lawyer and human rights activist was abducted from a busy Bangkok street on 12 March 2004, in the Ramkamheang District of Bangkok. The motive is thought to have been Somchai’s representing of Muslim defendants in terrorism cases in the deep South who claimed they were tortured. His wife is Angkana Neelapaijit who today is the Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Thailand.

Mvt 35 - thongnAk sAwEkChindA -  photo by Luke Duggleby/Protection Internationalphoto by Luke Duggleby/Protection International

Movement 35 – thongnAk sAwEkChindA

Mr Thongnak Sawekchinda, 47, was shot 9 times whilst sitting outside his home on 28 July 2011 in Samut Sakhon town. Over the past five years, Thongnak led villagers in Muang, Ban Phaeo, and Krathum Baen districts in high-profile protests against the persistent problem of air pollution from dust and fumes from coal depots and separation factories.

[the above recordings are midi demos]

4 Responses to “The Thailand HRDs”

  1. Frank Horvat September 7, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    Wow, very exciting news since sharing this composition with the world: The photographer who inspired this work, Luke Duggleby, has heard about this string quartet and is absolutely delighted with what I have come up with. Plans are underway with various individuals and organizations to bring this collaboration to life. In the meantime, here’s Luke’s blog post about our artistic connection –

  2. Lisa Horvat October 6, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    Great blog about how this whole project came together –

  3. Paola Carmagnani October 13, 2016 at 4:26 am #

    A deeply touching work of great inspiration. Very much looking forward to hesribg the other movements and to the October Chiang Mai Premiere.
    The memory of these human rights defenders truly lives on.

    • Frank Horvat October 13, 2016 at 7:23 am #

      Thanks so much for your comments, Paola. It’s an honour to work on this project!

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