Paul Barton, an artist and musician living in Thailand, who often plays piano for rescued elephants at various sanctuaries and does the same for the wild macaques. This particular group of primates lives inside Phra Prang Sam Yot, an ancient monkey temple in Lopburi.
The Fine Arts Department of Lopburi allowed us to bring our piano at Prang Sam Yod, a Khmer-style temple dating from 11th/12th century. The temple nicknamed “Monkey Temple” is home to a huge number of wild macaques.
Barton had a very furry time of it when his audience of incredibly interactive primates decided that they preferred a front-row seat to their personal concert. The macaques happily sat atop the piano, sat upon the keys, and climbed all over the musician himself. One macaque even tried to groom Barton. As it turns out, the macaques at the temple are more outgoing than the ones at the cinema.
The temple macaque gang are more forward, mischievous and occasionally aggressive to humans than the macaque gang that live at the abandoned cinema nearby. The cinema macaques like to keep their own company, are peace-loving and comparatively shy around humans. We discovered the reaction of both macaque gangs to piano music was very different.
Barton’s daughter Emilie, who celebrated her 6th birthday, provided a behind the scenes narration.