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A trip down South

The Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra plays in Yala in the spirit of solidarity and encouragement

The set list of TPO's performance includes the late King Bhumibol's compositions and local tunes aside from traditional symphony. Melalin Mahavongtrakul

The audiences looked on eagerly as throngs of classical musicians from the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO), all smartly dressed in black, slowly filed onto the stage of Yala Rajabhat University's auditorium. Once the men and women in black were seated, and the conductor flicked his baton, the first melody struck. The powerful sounds of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No.5 soon engulfed the hall, filled with locals of Thailand's southernmost province.

Yala is home to untainted nature and cultural diversity, though unfortunately the province is better known as one of the sites for the decade-long southern insurgency. Over years of unrest, there have been bombing attacks and shootings in the public area. Bunkers and soldiers' checkpoints can still be found across the city.

"Ever since the incident, people have rarely come to Yala," admitted Pongsak Yingchoncharoen, mayor of Yala. "Before, we would have groups coming to play sports and music. That's in the past now."

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