Classical Music Concert Series Kicks off in Capital

A series of concerts inspired by the music scene in London from the 18th and 19th centuries will launch tonight at the Cambodian Japanese Cooperation Center at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, an organizer said Wednesday.

This concert will be the first of 20 to be presented in Phnom Penh over the next five years as part of the Bach Abel Concert Series, said Anton Isselhardt of the Art+Foundation, which has begun the series. The program will consist of four orchestral concerts each year featuring professional musicians from the West and Cambodia, he said.

A German flutist who has been teaching at the Royal University of Fine Arts since 2001 and launched the capital’s annual Western-music festival in 2004, Mr Isselhardt came up with the idea of a series featuring accomplished musicians because, he said, he felt the public needed more than an annual festival.

Tonight’s 7 pm program will include music from Bach, Abel and from 18th-century English composer William Boyce interpreted by violinist Markus Gundermann, violoncellist Matthias Diener and Mr Issselhartd.

Admission is by donation with contributions supporting music workshops for Cambodian students, Mr Isselhardt said.

Mr Isselhardt said he realized as he was researching various composers that the foremost composers and musicians of the 18th and 19th centuries visited and, in some cases, actually lived in London.

In 1775, German composers Carl Friedrich Abel and Johann Christian Bach-the son of composer Johann Sebastian Bach-who were playing at the British court, opened their own concert room in a fashionable part of London.

“They had their network of musicians…and invited them to London,” he said. George Frederic “Handel spent 35 years in England…he was highly appreciated by the King.”

Their concert room and the exclusive Almack’s Great Room offered musical performances to the “fashionable society,” thus extending the music scene outside the court, he said.

The Bach Abel series will offer music that might have been played at the time, Mr Isslehardt added.


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