Fong Naam at Bangkok Banana

Fong Naam is an ambitious East/West collaboration between Thai classical musician Boonyong Kaethong and American Vietnam War conscientious objector Bruce Gaston.

Already an accomplished musician, Gaston arrived in Thailand in the late 1960s and became a student of Kaethong, learning the khong wong, a circular gong that is a staple of the piphat orchestra of Thailand. Gaston and Kaethong formed the ensemble, according to their website, “to provide a stage and artistic opportunities for musicians who are not only sophisticated in classical Thai arts but also have a commitment to contemporary Thai art.” Kaethong had a special purpose: “Instead of ending up as an old drunken musician complaining that things were not what they used to be, as tragically many of his colleagues did, he fought to forge new future for Thai society through his compositions and performances with Fong Naan….” The ensemble has spent the last thirty years performing  classical and jazz compositions and compiling collections of ancient Thai music in order to simultaneously preserve and advance the form. In this video we see Fong Naam performing at the Bangkok Banana Contemporary Arts Festival in 2009.