Music Festival Unveils Diverse Lineup

Each year, the Art+ Foundation’s annual Western classical music festival presents old favorites alongside less common, if not esoteric, pieces of music.

But in addition to purely musical considerations, the development of the festival’s program is also dictated by behind-the-scene deliberations that reflect the difficulties of staging such an event in Cambodia. These range from the international and Cambodian musicians available that week to the impossibility of transporting a piano to a certain venue, according to festival director Anton Isselhardt.

The program for the 11th Phnom Penh International Music Festival, announced at a press conference on Friday, reflects all this.

The theme of the festival is “European and Asian Mythology in Music,” and the locations are as varied as the large venue at Hotel InterContinental, where the festival will open on November 13 and end on November 17, and a more intimate location in Meta House, where there will be performances on November 14 and 16. There will also be the romantic setting of the St. Joseph Chapel where, on November 15, opera singers will present Gregorian chant with the first work performed being 900 years old.

Some compositions may intrigue musicians as well as the audience. For example, Cambodian pianist Rong Sereyvann will interpret Erik Satie’s 1917 “Sonatine bureaucratique,” or bureaucratic sonatina. In a 20th century piece like this one, Mr. Sereyvann said, “The color of music is different [and so is] the harmony, the feeling.”

For the third consecutive year, the Art+ Foundation’s program has included monthly concerts starting in January and leading up to the festival in November. This month’s concert is taking place Sunday at 8 p.m. at Meta House, and will feature Matthias Krug on violin, Mr. Isselhardt on flute and Aree Kunapongkul on piano.

These monthly events aim to make Western classical music more present in the city, said Gabi Faja, a pianist whose The Piano Shop has sponsored the series this year. Perhaps more importantly, he added, the concerts give young Cambodians the opportunity to discover classical music.

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