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Renowned pianist in town for a cause

On Saturday evening, the enduring relationship between Cambodia and Japan will be showcased in a special evening of classical music, organised to raise funds for the orphans of last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

The concert, hosted by the Srornos Music School with the support of the Japanese Embassy, will take place in the InterContinental Hotel’s Grand Ballroom.

Keynote performer Julian Lawrence Gargiulo, an Italian-born and internationally renowned concert pianist, will be flying into Phnom Penh from New York especially for the event.

So Srornos attained his Masters in Classical Music while studying in Hiroshima before founding his eponymous music school in November 2010. When he saw the devastation wrought by the Japanese tsunami, he felt compelled to act.

“After the earthquake, I felt so bad, so sad to see what happened,” said So Srornos. “I wanted to do something to help the children of Japan.”

Srornos said the event would also be an ideal way to showcase classical music to a Cambodian audience. Srornos’ music school, which currently caters for 130 students, has a comprehensive library of classical music, and its founder is a fervent advocate of the genre.

Before leaving Hiroshima, Srornos was gifted with a Yamaha grand piano as the first Cambodian graduate of his university’s music programme, which will be utilised for Saturday night’s performance.

Gargiulo was recruited for the event by Yumi Anna Ono, a teacher at the music school and wife of Yoshi Abe, the Second Secretary of the Japanese Embassy.

The event is a perfect fit for Gargiulo, who established the 16,000 Children Foundation in the United States  – an organisation which brings together fellow musicians, artists and filmmakers to raise awareness of the number of children in the world that die of hunger each day.

Twenty per cent of Cambodia’s official development assistance comes from Japan, making it the country’s single largest foreign aid donor.

For many Phnom Penh residents, the generosity of successive Japanese governments has been epitomised by the construction of the Chroy Chung Va Bridge in 1993.

The site of the original bridge, which links Phnom Penh with National Highway 6, Siem Reap and the northwest provinces, had lain dormant for 20 years after being demolished during the battle between Lon Nol’s forces and the Khmer Rouge in 1973.

Cambodia for Japan will be held at 6pm Saturday March 10 in the InterContinental Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Tickets are US $10 per adult and $5 per child.

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