Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Conductor Pursues Classical Music from Thailand to Utah to South Carolina
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Bundit Ungrangsee, a recent LDS Church convert
and until recently associate conductor of the Utah Symphony, has accepted a
position with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra as its associate conductor,
prompting a profile in the Charleston Post and Courier. A Thai native,
Ungrangsee brings first rate orchestral qualifications to a position where he
expects to conduct a wider variety of music more often. Ungrangsee will
conduct the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in his debut on Friday, September
29th in Charleston's Sottile Theatre.
Ungrangsee started his musical education at 13, where he picked up a Thai
flute. By 14 he had switched to classical guitar and soon started playing in
a Thai rock band. At that time he also broke with the family's Buddist
tradition and became a Christian, joining a Pentecostal church. Then, at 18,
he saw Zubin Meta conduct the New York Philharmonic in Bangkok. It was a
life-changing experience for Ungrangsee. "I realized right then that I
wanted to be a conductor, to do that for the rest of my life," he says.
However, his parents didn't think that he could earn a living in music, and
wanted him to take over the family's wholesale fish business. As a
compromise, Ungrangsee go both a music and a business administration degree
from the University of Wollongong, near Sydney, Australia. Fortunately, the
degree in Music and Ungrangsee's hard work opened the door to an
international career in music. He became the youngest student in the 1996
conducting class at the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy before
moving on to the University of Michigan, where he got a master's degree in
music that same year.
Then, in May 1996, Ungrangsee became conductor and music director of the
Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles, staying there for
two years before embarking on an international tour, conducting orchestras
worldwide. In 1998, he received the Leonard Bernstein Conducting fellowship
and was a conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in western
Massachusetts, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He then
accepted the position in Salt Lake City with the Utah Symphony.
While in Salt Lake, Ungrangsee was introduced to the LDS Church, which he
joined five months ago. There he was introduced by a mutual friend to a
returned missionary, Mary Jane Jones. The two plan to be married in April in
an LDS Temple in Salt Lake City when Ungrangsee has completed a year of
Church membership. Jones, who grew up in Korea, is a publicist for the LDS
record label Excel Entertainment, where she recently worked on publicity for
the movie "God's Army." She also sings, and recently released her own solo CD.
The couple plan to make their home in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where
Jones will telecommute, continuing to work for Excel.
Bundit Ungrangsee: Associate conductor brings world of experience to CSO
Charleston SC Post & Courier 23Sep00 A2
By Dottie Ashley: Post and Courier staff