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Norwegian teens bring string orchestra to town

A Norwegian mini string orchestra is set to serenade its way across Cambodia over the coming two weeks. The group of Norwegian child musicians and their families were invited by Katrine Solhaug of Babel Guesthouse, who hopes their music will help inspire children in Cambodia.

“It all started with my mother,” explains Katrine, “I was sending her pictures of the Apsara dancing, and she asked if they were dancing in silence. I’d never thought to take pictures of the musicians. Once I told my mother about the traditional Cambodian instruments, she said we should plan a trip for her students.”

Katrine’s mother, Kjersti Aurbakken, is a teacher of the International Suzuki Method, a way of teaching music that not only creates fluid musicians, but allows them to come together easily with other such musicians from around the world.

Aurbakken thought this concept would be the perfect base for the trip with her six students, who together play violin, viola and cello. The group will also be joined by two Suzuki mentors from Hong Kong.

While in Siem Reap, the group will go to Sangkheum Children’s Centre for something of a cultural exchange.

“The children there will perform the fish dance, the coconut dance, and one other.

Then our group will perform the string instruments and show them how they work,” explains Katrine, herself a violinist.

“I am very strict on orphanage tourism, but we’ve worked with Sangkheum Centre for a long time. We will go there in two groups so there’s not too many people at once.”

Following their visit to the centre, the Cambodian and Norwegian children will join forces with a performance at Babel Guesthouse next Tuesday, July 31.

Starting at 6.30pm, the Cambodian children will display their traditional dances, and the Norwegian group – aged between 10 and 15 – will also serenade the crowd.

A barbecue will be held afterwards for $5 a head and all are welcome.

While in Temple Town, the group will enjoy a schedule of sightseeing, but will still have their instruments in tow.

Katrine has organised for the group to play afloat the Tara Sunset Cruise.

“It will be great because the people on the boat can listen to them, but the people in the villages around will hear them too.”

Following their stint in the Reap, the Norwegian posse will move on to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

You may be more used to hearing the ting ting ting of the local musos, but if you happen to hear the sound of strings in the distance, do be sure to go up and say, “Hello”.

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