British violinist and Red Cross spokeswoman Vanessa-Mae finished her visit to Cambodia on Thursday with a trip to the Russian market and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s orthopedic components factory in Phnom Penh.
“It was important for me to come to Cambodia because as a spokesman for the Red Cross, I felt it would be very superficial if I never came to visit these countries but spoke about them from far away,” she said at a press conference Thursday morning.
The 20-year-old virtuoso’s four-day visit included trips to several other Red Cross projects where she performed short concerts—when her violin was up to it.
A concert at the Krousar Thmey orphanage in Takhmao had to be canceled because of high humidity, although she did play at the American Red Cross orthopedic Center in Kompong Speu and at the Jesuit Service vocational training center for mine victims in Bantaey Prieb.
“The violin was made in 1761 so it’s really quite delicate. Any humidity will unglue the glue. If it’s too dry, it will crack,” Vanessa-mae said.
She invited four children and two teachers from the orphanage to be part of her millennium concert at a French ski resort. “They will be having real, real fun, like skiing and snowboarding and dog-sledding and snowball fights,” she said
The music star, who said that she is making more trips to Asia lately as part of an attempt to reconnect with her Thai and Chinese ethnic roots, also spent some time as a tourist in Phnom Penh.
The violinist visited Tuol Sleng prison and the Killing Fields.
“It’s awful to think when this was taking place in Cambodia in the ’70s, everybody else was enjoying Saturday Night Fever and John Travolta and the disco era,” she said. “Going to the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng was really sobering.”
Speaking before her visit to the Russian market, Vanessa-Mae said she was aware that pirated CDs, including her own, were for sale there. She would not, however, sign any album covers.
“I don’t sign pirated copies…the most I can do as an artist is just be pleased that people like my music no matter how they purchased it,” she said.
Vanessa-Mae was scheduled to leave Thursday evening for Hong Kong.