Talented eight-year-old PANHLauv comes from a musical family and
took to the flute at the age of six, despite being told he was too
small to play it
PANHLauv, 8, performs on the flute and (below) speaks with his teachers Hou Gongneng and Anton Isslehardt.
Little eight-year-old flautist PANHLauv was once told he couldn't play the flute because it was too long.
But his performance with two of his teachers at the Art Cafe on
Wednesday night showed he has become accomplished on the instrument.
In a country where western classical music is not well-known or
widely practised, PANHLauv has been privileged since the age of six to
study under Chinese teacher Hou Gongneng - who is visiting Phnom Penh
for the first time - and Art Cafe owner and flutist Anton Isslehardt.
PANHLauv met Hou, a flutist from the Wind Instruments Orchestra of
Sichuan, when he was based in China during his summer holidays while
his mother, Dr Lili Sisombat, worked there for two years.
PANHLauv began his studies in the summer of 2006 and could blow
steadily and play three compositions within less than three weeks. The
younger brother of BosbaPANH, a promising Khmer coloratura soprano -
both siblings opt to style their names in uppercase letters - and
nephew of filmmaker Rithy Panh, PANHLauv comes from a talented family
and, according to his mother, has always had a very good ear for music.
"He didn't know how to read the notes but could play music just by
listening. During a concert by his sister last December, he could play
all the songs," Sisombat said.
"He grew up with his sister singing and musicians always coming to
the house, and he was always observing them. When he first tried a
flute, the Khmer teacher said he couldn't play the flute as it was too
long. But when we were in China, they had a special flute he could
easily use and hold."
It has taken a lot of discipline and determination to get to where
he is, and, when based in China, PANHLuav practised for four hours a
week with his master teacher, the director of the Sichuan symphony, and
with Hun for two hours a day.
When at home in Cambodia, he practises four hours a day during the
school holidays and one-and-a-half to two hours a day during the school
According to his mother, PANHLauv is also learning to read and write music and likes to play the drums.
"I like music and what I like about the flute is playing with the
fingers. I have learned how to put my lips on the flute, place my
fingers and lots of songs from my teachers. I want to one day be a
conductor like my teacher in China," said PANHLauv.
There is little opportunity for students in Cambodia to study with
European teachers, said Sisombat. "PANHLauv is of Cambodian roots but
lucky enough to have been exposed to international musicians and
disciplines," she said.
With support and appropriate training, however, PANHLauv's talent
gives his dream of becoming a conductor a real possibility of coming