5th International Music Festival Offers More Traditional Sounds

After presenting contemporary works from Europe and Asia under the theme of cross-cultural exoticism in 2007, organizers of this year’s international music festival in Phnom Penh have opted for the traditional.

“Cambodia goes Baroque” will be the theme of the fifth International Music Festival, which opens Thurs­day at Chaktomuk Confe­r­ence Hall.

Featuring artists from Cambodia, Germany, Japan, France, Indonesia and the US, the festival will consist of seven concerts held over five consecutive days. Organizers selected baroque music, the first musical movement to spread through central Europe when people began craving secular compositions after centuries of being largely ex­posed to religious music, said festival Program Director Anton Issel­hardt, a German flutist with the Art+ ­Foundation.

While music during the previous period of the Renaissance varied from country to country, baroque music was similar throughout central Europe, he said. The movement influenced not only music, but also theater, opera, architecture and the arts over a 150-year period, he said at a news conference Friday.

The sub-theme of the festival will be the “Bach Family” whose composers exemplified the movement as Heinrich Bach was born in 1600—15 years after the official start of the movement—while Wilhelm Friede­mann Bach saw it eclipsed by newer trends, Isselhardt said. The family’s best-known composer, Johann Se­bastian Bach, died in 1750, the year given as the end of baroque music.

Such festivals are part of Cambo­d­ian composers’ training as well, said Sam-Ang Sam, a musicologist and dean of the Faculty of Arts, Letters and Humanities at Pannasastra University. In order to create out of their own Cambodian roots, musicians and composers must be aware of the larger world of music, he said at the news conference.

“We need to absorb music, and we need to experiment in order to be inspired,” he said.

Admission is free and tickets can be acquired in advance at a number of locations in Phnom Penh, including Art Cafe, Meta House, the French Cultural Center, Monu­ment Books and Java Cafe.

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