November 16, 2011
After a very long journey, beginning in New York and going through Frankfurt and Singapore, I finally arrived in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capitol, on the morning of Wednesday November 16, 2011. Sure I was tired, but there was no time for rest. I immediately had to make my way to the Cambodian Living Arts headquarters for a brief rehearsal and then a press conference for local news services and television stations to promote the upcoming “Our Village Concert.” The Our Village Concert will take place in a rural area not too far from Phnom Penh, called Chombok Meah, where the impoverished population is rarely treated to such live music events. They will hear fusions of western and traditional Cambodian music. Even the traditional Cambodian aspect might be a little unfamiliar to them, since this music was banned by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and is only now starting to make a come-back. I am told that the saxophone and other western aspects of the music, not to mention the fusion with Cambodian music, will be exciting and startling to the audience, as they rarely glimpse life and culture outside of their own village. There will also be several child performers involved, for whom it will be their first job, and local merchants will be invited to sell their products rent-free. The whole event should be a great benefit in many ways to many people, plus it should be a really fun time. Musicians are coming from Thailand and Vietnam too! Parade of One is just one of the cosponsors of the Our Village Concert, along with Cambodian Living Arts and Arn Chorn-Pond’s new project, Waterek Productions.
The press conference was wonderful. We featured some of the child performers, who were a little nervous and really excited to be on television. Check them out!
And from the rehearsal, you can see some of the traditional Cambodian instruments:
You may notice the beautiful scarves some people are wearing in these photos, and you can actually get your own scarf, by donating to Parade of One. Click here to learn how!
November 17, 2011
On Thursday, I had a great meeting with a Cambodian instrument maker I met last time I was here. His name is Mr. Yim Serchot. He’s teaching me about a few of the local woodwind instruments, and I’ve even bought a couple from him. Check out this video of Yim, playing one of his flutes. Each one takes a full day for him to make, and he plays them beautifully:
If you are interested in owning one of these beautiful flutes, you can do so by making a donation to Parade of One. They are great both for playing or for decorative/collector potential. Click here to learn more!
Nov. 21, 2011
Aside from meetings and press conferences, I’ve jumped right into street performances, as well. Street performance is the heart and bloodstream of the Parade of One project. All films, musical collaborations, and even my participation in the upcoming Our Village Concert have arisen from humble street performance. At first, I had to make do without an interpreter. Last time I was in Cambodia, I had the pleasure of working with two wonderful assistants. Unfortunately, Soluy is now busy traveling all over Cambodia for her work, and Somaly has a full-time job, though she’ll probably be joining me at some point when she’s free. Luckily I have been introduced to Ny, though, who has a master’s degree in English. He’ll be helping me out a lot with the street performances. Today was his orientation, and he joined me for street performances outside the National Museum and at the Riverside (on the bank of the Tonle Sap.) Unfortunately, our schedules only made this possible in the mid-afternoon, when early evening is more peak time, but it was still interesting. Outside of the National Museum, a mildly intoxicated gentleman started asking me a lot of questions, when a lady sitting next to him snapped, “What are you an interviewer or something?”
As usual, many kids were attracted to the scene. Some of them seem to like sticking their ear right into the bell of the saxophone, and then when they realize it’s painfully loud to do that, they to do it again, over and over. I’ve seen this everywhere, with children, but it seems particularly prevalent in Cambodia. I’m not sure why…
Parade of One is currently fundraising to keep our operations alive, and for the upcoming Our Village concert. Please donate by visiting the Parade of One website. Donors who are interested in receiving holiday gifts, can check out the Cambodian scarves and flutes.