Thursday, March 19, 2009

Association Remembers Veteran Singers

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 500 artists, singers, video stars, musicians and songs writers attended the Sin Sisamuth Association’s (SSA) gathering ceremony on March 17 in Phnom Penh.

SSA was established in 2006 to preserve and promote the songs and music of veteran Cambodian singers and composers.

Sin Chan Chhaya, President of SSA, said that the gathering ceremony aimed to raise funds in support of the association’s activities and to meet with elderly singers, musicians, composers, and films stars who survived the reign of the Khmer Rouge.

He said this is the third celebration Phnom Penh. The funds raised will be put toward conservation and promotion of music created by those who passed away between 1975 and 1979 during the Pol Pot regime. The gathering also facilitated the meeting of veteran singers, writers and video stars from the 1960s and 70s who survived the Pol Pot regime in order to share ideas on music conservation and development for next generation of Cambodia.

During the Pol Pot period, approximately 99 percent of the Khmer singers, song writers, composers and film stars, along with their profiles and documents, were killed and destroyed, said Chan Chhaya.

He pointed out that those like Sin Sisamuth, who was given name “King of Golden Voice” by former King Preah Norodom Sihanouk, were executed in the Pol Pot regime. Those people included En Yeng, Ing Nary, Sos Math, Chea Savoeun, Pao Sitho, Svay Samoeur, Has Salan, Ung Song Soeum, and female singers, Ros Serei Sothea, Pen Ran, and Huoy Meas.

“The deaths of our veteran singers were a huge loss of the human resources and Khmer intelligence in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Chan Chhaya said.

Nuon Sangvath, SSA’s First Vice President, said that among the veteran singers who were killed by the Khmer Rouge, Sin Sisamuth was only the singer and composer who had sweet and different voice. He sang very beautifully.

Sin Sisamuth had many achievements including his artworks, song compositions and literacy promotion for people in Cambodia, Sangvath said. Before he was killed by Khmer Rouge in 1976, Sin Sisamuth sang and produced hundreds of Khmer songs.

Sangvath emphasized that despite Sin Sisamuth’s having passed away more than three decades ago, his songs and voice are still very popular for Cambodian people today. No one can sing like him and the association used his name in their title because of his excellence in music.

Puth Pisith, 67, a retired teacher who participated in the gathering, said that he was happy to attend the event.

“I think that it is very important for me to participate because I truly respected and adored him,” Pisith said. “Although he passed away more than 30 years ago, he is still my only hero and is the ‘King of Golden Voice’ for the people in Cambodia.”

Kong Sothea, 50, an officer working at the Ministry of Interior also participated in the gathering. He said he was pleased with SSA’s gathering. The gathering helped him to more clearly understand the backgrounds of the old Cambodian singers, scholars and film stars before they were killed by the Pol Pot regime.

“I liked listening to the old songs very much. My most favorite singers are Mr. Sin Sisamuth, Mr. En Yeng, Sos Math, Ms Pen Ran and Ms. Ros Serei Sothea,” he said. “I attended this gathering because I wanted to seek understanding about their profiles and backgrounds.”

Chan Chhaya said that to conserve and promote the old songs of the veteran singers for the next generation, his association will continue to research and compile information about all those who had been killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The association will also conduct a music and singing training session for young people and establish an “Artistic Center” in Cambodia in the future.

Since the establishment of the association in 2006, a total of 354 Cambodian youths have been trained in music and song, he said. ///


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