Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong musical heritage on show this weekend in Siem Reap




Mekong musical heritage on show this weekend in Siem Reap

Vietnamese group Dong King Co Nhac, who will perform tonight and Saturday at REPfest.
Vietnamese group Dong King Co Nhac, who will perform tonight and Saturday at REPfest. Photo supplied

Mekong musical heritage on show this weekend in Siem Reap

For many, an airport is considered a place of hassles, delays and general annoyances. But for Song Seng, the director of Cambodian Living Arts’ Heritage Hub, it’s where cultures converge. Hence the name REPfest – after the acronym for the Siem Reap International Airport – a three-day music festival beginning today that has brought traditional musicians from around the region to Temple Town.

The festival features three days of public performances and workshops at three venues in Siem Reap, including CLA’s Heritage Hub inside of Wat Bo, Sala Thoam Chas and Krousar Thmey. Performing will be a shadow theatre troupe from Laos, Japanese flutist Kohei Nishikawa, the group Law Ka Nat from the Anyar region of Myanmar and Vietnamese ensemble Đông Kinh Cổ Nhạc, among other artists. There will also be two newly-formed groups playing from Cambodia – all-female drumming collective Medha and the group Yaksao.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Medha, a Cambodian all-female drumming group formed earlier this year. Photo supplied

According to Phan Chamroeun, the leader of the seven-piece Yaksao, the group formed just five months ago, and this will be its second time performing. They have backgrounds in traditional music but, fitting with the theme of the festival, they experiment with new forms and compositions. Both Yaksao and Medha emerged from workshops organised earlier this year by CLA .  

“Especially these few years, we can see that young people and young artists want to move on with their own identity, but with the resources they gain from their ancestors, their masters,” CLA’s Seng said.  

Especially confident in their own identity is Medha, which means “resourceful woman” in Khmer. Drumming in Cambodia has typically been a male domain, but Sang Sreypich, 26, and her team are challenging that notion.

“Before we never knew if women could play the drum instrument,“ she said. “My teachers said women can’t play the drums because when they hit them it is very painful on the hand, and women don’t have enough energy.”

During an artist residency, the group practised with one instructor to learn the basics of drumming. CLA then commissioned them later on to create more work from what they had learned.

“The quality is just ‘wow’,” Seng said.

So far the group has put together three compositions, which include some singing and chanting. Their performance this weekend, Sreypich said, is to convey the message “there is no division between man and woman”.

“We want to encourage and break through the challenges.”

Public workshops and performances in Siem Reap begin today and will be held through Sunday. For more information about REPfest and a full schedule of events, visit https://www.cambodianlivingarts.org/repfest/  

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • ‘Beware of WhatsApp fraudsters’

    The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned members of the public who use WhatsApp to vigilantly guard against a new trick employed by hackers that involves the use of six-digit codes sent to potential victims via the popular messaging app. The ministry said hackers could