Siem Reap Insider
- Last Updated on 30 July 2012
- By Peter Olszewski
American teenage classical music prodigy Michael Fleming will be performing at the Conservatory Bar at Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor tomorrow evening, starting at 7pm.
According to Janet Chan, assistant director of sales at Raffles, Michael and his family are in Asia for holidays. They are staying at the hotel, and knowing that the Conservatory has a beautiful grand piano, they approached the hotel for Michael to play while on holiday.
Janet says, "We thought it was a brilliant opportunity to support young talent as well as to showcase world music to our other in-house guests and fellow Siem Reapers. So that's how it started."
Furthermore, 18-year-old Fleming will grace the audience with the premiere on piano of a short original composition inspired by what he has read about and photos he has seen of the Angkor temples.
But on the morning of his performance in Siem Reap he will visit the temples for the first time, and that is sure to guarantee that his evening performance will be even more inspired.
Fleming told Siem Reap Insider, "I will be seeing the temples of Angkor the morning of the performance in Siem Reap. For a great amount of time now, it has been a dream of mine to see these temples.
Everything about them will be an inspiration to me. I hope the guide we are with when I visit the temples will bring them alive with their histories and stories."
He added, "The style I write in is usually in the conservative modern classical style. The piece will be approximately 3-4 minutes. I have strong ideas from pictures and word of mouth, and I will be premiering the piece on the piano."
So who exactly is this amazingly talented young American who has dropped into our midst to entertain and delight us?
He says, "I am 18 years old and for all my life I have lived in Newport Beach, California. From a very young age, I have immensely loved music. Around the age of five, I started to play the violin and the piano. I loved the beautiful sounds they made and became very interested in classical music and its history and form.
"From the seventh to the twelfth grade, I attended the Orange County High School of the Arts as a violin major in the instrumental music conservatory.
In the tenth grade, I was appointed to write the score to Thornton Wilder's play, Our Town, at Vanguard University. With an open mind and dedication, I wrote the whole score for piano and violin with the discretion of the director.
Throughout the play's performances, critics from all over the region had nothing but great things to say about my music. The play overall did so well that it went to a regional competition in Washington DC."
Wilder's three-act play Our Town is about an average American town's citizens in the early twentieth century and their everyday lives.
The play received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938. In 1946, the Soviet Union prevented a production of Our Town in the Russian sector of Berlin "on the grounds that the drama is too depressing and could inspire a German suicide wave," according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Michael Fleming says his composition was, "The first time that music was ever written for this play. [In 2011] I was awarded Meritorious Achievement by the Kennedy Performing Arts Center for the Best Score to a college play.
"After that moment, I knew I wanted to write for the moving picture as a career. The next year, I was asked to be the music director of the American Coast Theatre Company to write and prepare music for the West Coast premier of the play, The Hiding Place by Tim Gregory.
"That summer, going into senior year of high school, I auditioned for Boston Conservatory's high school composition intensive program. I was selected with five other people out of the entire nation to participate in the program at the prestigious school.
My studies there included the analysis of both classical and modern symphonies, classical sonatas and string quartets. I had the opportunity to compose and hear my own music performed by professional musicians."
"My school's administration had a vision for my senior class's graduation. They wanted everyone to collaborate together in some way, to create something beautiful from all sorts of backgrounds and talent. They believed I could fulfill that vision with my skills as a composer.
I wrote a choral piece with small orchestral accompaniment in two weeks, and 120 seniors from different conservatories came together and created beautiful music from my piece. It was completely student produced with visuals and choreography."
"The premier of this piece, entitled Of Voices and Visions, at my graduation was an absolute success. Everyone rose to their feet at the conclusion of the piece which gave me absolute bliss.
My love and passion for music is indescribable. It is my love, my fuel, my everything. Starting in the fall, I will be a music composition major at Orange County's Chapman University, which holds one of the nation's best film schools."
"And yes, I am multi-instrumental. As aforementioned, I play the violin and the piano. I recently picked up the accordion as well. My musical influences are Shostakovich, Barber, Tchaikovsky, John Williams, James Newton Howard, Michael Giacchino, John Powell, and Thomas Newman."
Proceeds from the night will go to the Angkor Hospital for Children, an initiative introduced by the hotel's general manager Christian Sack. The hotel actively supports the hospital and as its blood bank has been low over the past months, Raffles staff donated blood last month and there will be another round this month.