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Music ensemble hits the right note

the ensemble members
Some of the ensemble members – from left to right: cellist Chris Finckel, flutist and executive director of The New York New Music Ensemble Jayn Rosenfeld, pianist Stephen Gosling, violinist Linda Quan and clarinetist Benjamin Fingland.​ Photo Supplied

Music ensemble hits the right note

Renowned chamber music group The New York New Music Ensemble will perform a one-off concert at Shinta Mani Hotel on July 6. The program consists of four pieces written by different Khmer composers, including award-winning Chinary Ung.

Originally formed in 1976, this acclaimed group of classically-trained musicians’ current line-up comprises cellist Chris Finkel, pianist Stephen Gosling, violinist Linda Quan, singer and violist Susan Ung, flutist Jayn Rosenfeld and on clarinet, Benjamin Fingland who has collaborated with many artists including Sir Elton John.

Shinta Mani general manager Christian de Boer invited the group to perform at the hotel after having heard them perform at New York’s Seasons of Cambodia festival a couple of months ago.

He emailed them saying he’d love to do something if they were ever in town. Within half an hour they responded saying they were coming to Cambodia to do some concerts in Phnom Penh.

A performance date in Siem Reap was then set and on July 6 the ensemble will perform a ninety minute concert in Kroya restaurant at Shinta Mani.

Composer Chinary Ung
Composer Chinary Ung.​ Photo Supplied

The program kicks off with a quintet arrangement, Karuna, written by Sam-Ang Sam, also curator of music programs at the Seasons of Cambodia fetsival. Sam is ministry assistant at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and dean of the Faculty of Arts, Letters, and Humanities at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh.

The second work will be Spiral XI, Mother and Child, by Chinary Ung for viola and voice. Khmer-born Ung moved to the US in 1964, where he became the first American composer to win the Grawemeyer Award for musical composition in 1989. This was the first of many awards to follow. Ung teaches at the University of California in San Diego and was also involved in Seasons of Cambodia, where the New York New Music Ensemble performed a concert of his work.

“He’s probably the only high-level Khmer composer,” says De Boer. “He’s impressive. The music fits perfectly with what we want to do – it’s made in Cambodia, it’s played in Cambodia.”

The final two pieces are Piano Trio by Him Sophy, professor of music at the Royal University of Fine Arts and the Royal Academy of Cambodia, and quartet Child Song by Ung.

De Boer says he is excited about the concert and hopes it will be a night that prompts Reapers to dress up.

“I think it could be quite a special night,” he says. “The space really only holds about 80 people and we’re doing this for charity. I’m charging $18.50 a ticket and all the proceeds will go towards Cambodian Living Arts.

“The more I look into this the more excited I get, I mean for a tiny little hotel in the middle of nowhere – we can do something like this.”

Also, while in Cambodia Chinary Ung and his wife Susan Ung will begin steps to set up a composers institute to train young composers, and his “exploratory trip” has been supported by a grant from the Asian Cultural council.

The Siem Reap concert will start at 8pm on July 6. For tickets, contact Shinta Mani Hotel or Beyond Unique Escapes..

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