Monday, May 4, 2009

Joint Cambodia, Canada Choir Performance in Phnom Penh

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

A Choir consisting of Cambodian and Canadian singers will present concerts to be held over two days from 8 - 9 May 2009 at the Chaktomok Theatre Hall, Phnom Penh. The joint concert performance is organized by the Cambodia Support Group (CSG), in cooperation with the Cambodia Royal University of Fine Arts.

About 40 Canadian students and 35 Cambodian singers will participate. The singing will be supported by a range of additional performances, said Arne Sahlen, President and Country Director of the Cambodia Support Group.

Sahlen said that the Canadian students are studying at the University of Victoria whilst the Cambodian contingent is amde up of members of the Royal University of Fine Arts and the National School of Fine Arts in Ph

He continued that Canadian students will sing a rich variety of classical, modern and international music. The Cambodian singers will perform works penned by the King’s Father, Norodom Sihanouk. Canadian guitarist, Mr. Alexander Dunn, Khmer tenor singer, Mr. Hy Chanthavouth, will supply accompaniment with additional piano played by Mr. Arne Sahlen and Soun Piseth.
The main purpose of the concert is to promote cultural partnerships and exchange between Cambodian and Canadian artists, said Sahlen. He added that the event would also provide a unique experience for the Canadians in singing Khmer songs in partnership and promote understanding through the shared appreciation of a proud cultural heritage.

The Prima-Chamber Singers Choir from Canada is touring four countries in Asia. This event will mark the choir’s first visit to Cambodia since the international tours began, some 35 years ago. “Apart from giving a quality musical concert, the main objective is fostering partnership between musicians, between Khmer and foreign cultures and between classic and modern music. I think I can guarantee there is going to be something for everyone to enjoy.”

He pointed out that Canadian students are led by Dr. Bruce More and his wife Connie Foss-More, both choir conductors and teachers with splendid reputations. They are eager to meet Cambodians and learn more about life here.

Arne said that there is to be no charge for the concert performance but donations from visitors are welcome in order to support future musical partnership projects in Cambodia. He said according to his organization’s promotional material, he expects that hundreds of Cambodians and foreign nationals to attend the concerts.

He said the CSG was formed in Canada in 1983 to sponsor Khmer refugee camps in Thailand. In 1991 after the Paris Peace Accord, his organization began supporting Cambodians as they led the way to rebuilding this great nation.
“Like a chair with four legs, CSG works on four basic needs in Cambodia - training for the disabled, women-and-family issues, child and youth care and promoting education and fine arts” he said during an interview with The Cambodia Weekly on May 1. “We do not have our own projects, we prefer to hand-in-hand with our Khmer partners, the KAVTV electrical school for the disabled, the Khmer Women's Voice Centre, the Royal University of Fine Arts and the National School of Fine Arts.”

He emphasized that since 1993, CSG has organized more than 20 musical partnership events in Cambodia, most often with teachers and students of the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) and National School of Fine Arts (NSFA).

Arne said that music in Cambodia has four legs too - Khmer and foreign, classical and modern. It is his intention to bring the nation’s music to the attention of the World.

He added that in support of this ideal, CSG and RUFA-NSFA have projects to raise funds for 100 Khmer instruments; CSG has sponsored the young (western operatic) singer Hy Chanthavouth’s studies in Canada; and there are plans to work with Khmer and foreign musicians on future partnership events.

Proeung Chhieng, Vice Dean of the Royal University of Fine Arts, said the joint concert performance would help the Royal University of Fine Arts and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts promote and develop the arts, music and culture in Cambodia.///

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