Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged Cambodia’s up-and-coming musicians to stop copying foreign styles and instead develop the country’s unique cultural identity.
At the opening of a national musical theatre contest at Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Theatre attended by about 30 competing bands, a letter from the premier was read out that warned Cambodia’s youth culture had been infiltrated by foreign influences.
“We should not let the music sector suffer from negative actions and copy almost everything from abroad which has become a bad habit that makes us lose our national spirit and become dependent on foreigners,” the premier’s letter read.
Information minister Khieu Kanharith recalled the golden era of Cambodian rock in the 1960’s and urged young musicians to generate original ideas drawing on these influences.
The Kingdom’s rock scene flourished in the mid 1960’s as a group of musicians that included stars Ros Sereysotheam and Sinn Sisamouth popularised a unique Cambodian genre that has experienced a revival in the past decade after disappearing during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Composer Ming Sothyvan urged the young generation of Cambodian musicians to remember and celebrate that musical heritage .
“This is an important change that Khmer become consciously aware of the need to write themselves, not copy,” he said.
Participant Soy Phana, a graduate of the Royal University of Law and Economics, said yesterday Cambodian musicians needed to provide young people with new local songs.
“Sometimes they forget our older songs, so music composers need to fill their market needs. So if our Cambodian youth wake up and consciously embrace our original Khmer songs, our music will be better,” he said.