AN outdoor music festival inspired by the French Fête de la Musique will be held in Siem Reap tonight with a line-up featuring 10 Cambodian and international bands, along with acrobats and dancers.
Tonight’s World Music Festival, a joint project of Siem Reap’s Centre Culturel Français and local music group Naga Sangeeta Collective, marks the first time the Fête de la Musique has been held in Siem Reap, according to CCF spokesman Kol Kraucht.
The Fête de la Musique, held annually on the night of the European summer solstice, was started by American musician Joel Cohen in 1976, who proposed to his bosses at a French radio station that they hold an all-night celebration to mark the date.
Since then the festival has blossomed into an annual series of concerts and street parties, which after spreading across France have now reached Cambodia.
“It’s the first time Cambodians have celebrated this international occasion,” Kol Kraucht said.
“This concert will present music by Cambodian people, for Cambodian people, by incorporating a line-up of bands playing ancient and modern Khmer music.”
The five-hour festival, sponsored by Cellcard, Song Saa Private Island and White Rabbit, will be held on a 4,500-square-metre outdoor site next to Wat Bo Bridge in the city centre.
Musicians include Phnom Penh-based band Cambodian Space Project, as well The Messenger Band, an all-female group of former garment industry workers, who promote a pro-union message through their music.
One of the biggest draw cards at the festival will be Kong Nay, sometimes called “one of the last great bards in Cambodia” due to his mastery of both traditional chapei music and his own original songs.
His songs vary in their style. Some relate the story of his survival under the Khmer Rouge, while others poke fun at life in contemporary Cambodia.
The night will be compered by model and actress Aaliyah Veasna Kha, who stars in TV3’s Star Stage programme.
The festival also includes performances by the popular boy band, Pyramid Band. Battambang’s high profile art school, Phare Ponleu Selpak will also be represented on stage with circus acts.