The Waikhruu Ritual

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On March 11 and 12, 2017, the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology will host a historic two-day Thai waikhruu ritual event in the Jan Popper Theater that will be a great opportunity for admirers of world music and of Thai arts and culture. This public event is a traditional Thai waikhruu (“honoring teachers”) ritual to celebrate the restoration of the Thai traditional musical instrument collection at UCLA. The full title of this event, Wai Khun Khruu Buchaa Khrueang (ไหว้คุณ ครู บูชาเครื่อง), refers to paying respect to the teachers of past and present who have carried knowledge from the past into the present, to the gods and spirits, and to the musical instruments that are the vehicles for teachers and students to turn their knowledge into sounding music.
Thai music was established at UCLA by Dr. David Morton in the 1960s and 1970s, and after four decades’ silence was revived in spring 2016 by Dr. Supeena Insee Adler. The musical instruments at UCLA were restored by Adler in 2015 and are now being played again by students at the university in a Thai music ensemble class. Much of the Thai musical instrument collection at UCLA came in the 1960s from the Bangkok house of master Luang Praditpairoh (Sorn Silpabanleng), the most renowned Thai classical musician of the first half of the 20th century, now represented by a foundation bearing his name. To intensify and continue this historical relationship between UCLA and the foundation in Thailand, we have invited a group of musicians from the foundation to conduct this two-day waikhruu ritual on campus. After the ritual, during their visit, they will also make a studio recording at UCLA to produce educational materials for students and scholars worldwide.
In addition to performing and recording on campus, the musicians will perform in other university classes and at two Thai community centers to advance and promote knowledge of Thai music throughout Southern California. Attendees at the UCLA event will include ten student Thai music groups from California and one from Chicago, as well as UCLA’s ensemble. These events are funded by the Royal Thai Consulate General in Los Angeles, the Thailand Foundation, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Los Angeles, Thai Beverage, the Luang Praditpairoh (Sorn Silpabanleng) Foundation in Thailand, and by multiple organizations in Thailand and in the U.S., as well as by private donors. The event is presented by the World Music Center at UCLA, which comprises the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, the UCLA World Musical Instrument Collection, and UCLA Ethnomusicology Publications, providing a unique resource for scholarship, teaching, and community outreach related to the traditional and popular musics of the world.