The people behind Bangsokol
Trained at the Moscow Conservatory of Music as well as the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Dr. HIM Sophy brings a unique perspective to Bangsokol. His previous works, including the acclaimed rock opera Where Elephants Weep, have demonstrated an unparalleled facility for bringing Western and Khmer musical worlds into intimate conversation. This time, he combines a Western chamber orchestra and chorus with Khmer instrumentalists and vocalists. The traditional Khmer musical forms represented include several endangered forms of funeral music, such as kong skor, smot, and pin peat. These traditional musical forms are crucial for honoring the dead; unfortunately, live performances are seldom heard in the capital and rapidly disappearing in the countryside.
Director, Designer, Filmmaker
Rithy PANH, named Asian Filmmaker of the Year by the Busan International Film Festival in 2013, is an internationally and critically acclaimed Cambodian documentary director and screenwriter who received his formal education at the Institute for High Cinematographic Studies in Paris. He is the first Cambodian filmmaker ever to be nominated for an Oscar—for The Missing Picture in 2013. In the same year he received a prize in the “Un Certain Regard” category at the Cannes Festival. He has also directed many documentaries, including S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, for which he was awarded the prestigious Albert Londres Prize in 2004. Most recently, he worked as producer for Angelina Jolie’s film First They Killed My Father, which is due to be released in 2017.
Trent WALKER is a scholar of Southeast Asian Buddhism. He regularly performs and gives lectures on the Cambodian Dharma song (smot) tradition of Buddhist chant, having spent several years in Cambodia studying with vocal masters PRUM Ut, KOET Ran, and YAN Borin while working for Cambodian Living Arts. Trent completed his PhD in Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 2018, and is currently the Khyentse Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Thai at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, where his research and teaching focus on Khmer, Pali, and Thai Buddhist manuscripts. He is also coordinating an initiative of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center to make Cambodia’s manuscript heritage freely available to Khmer readers online.
Director of Staging
Gideon OBARZANEK is a director, playwright and choreographer. He is also an Artistic Associate with the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Melbourne Fringe and board member of Critical Path – choreographic research centre based in Sydney. In 1995, he founded the Australian dance company Chunky Move and was CEO and Artistic Director until 2012. Under his leadership the company established itself as one of the country’s most innovative, awarded and internationally recognized performing arts companies. Awards include ‘Best Short Documentary’ for Dance Like Your Old Man (Melbourne IFF, Cinedans Festival), a New York Bessie award for outstanding choreography and creation, and Australian Helpmann Awards for Glow and Mortal Engine.
Grammy-nominated conductor Andrew CYR, a “prominent influence in the world of newly emerging music” (Washington Post) is a leader in the rapidly growing contemporary music scene. His passion for creating new platforms for outstanding emerging composers and performing artists led him to found Metropolis Ensemble in 2006. His work as conductor has been described by Esa-Pekka SALONEN as “…precise, rhythmically incisive and fluid. He made complex new pieces sound natural and organic.” In addition to championing new work from the next generation of composers, he also made his conducting debuts with The Colorado Symphony in 2013 and led the American Premiere of a new opera by David BRUCE at New Victory Theatre.
Romyda KETH was born in Phnom Penh. When she was five she left Cambodia with her parents who were in the diplomatic corps. Following several years in Prague the family moved on to Paris in 1973. She studied at the the Paris School of Fine Arts and the Esmod School of Fashion Design. After working for Macy’s and running her own boutique in Paris, she moved back to Cambodia in 1994, where she now operates three boutiques. Exploring the wealth of local handicrafts, embroidery techniques, the diversity of colors and high quality of Khmer silk and organza became a second love for Romyda after enjoying long hours in the design and creation stage of her women’s wear lines.
Benjamin ‘Bosco’ SHAW
Bosco SHAW works primarily as a Lighting and Set Designer. His interest is in work that involves bodies and movement, how light feeds and influences the performing space and collaborations that propose alternate light sources and means. He has worked for companies and festivals in Australia and around the world. Recent design projects include: Antony HAMILTON – Meeting; Tim DARBYSHIRE – Stampede the Stampede; Dance North – Attractor, Syncing Feeling, IF_Was_; Chunky Move – It Cannot Be Stopped; Woodford Folk Festival 2015/16 – Fire Ceremonies; Matthew SLEETH – A Drone Opera; Stephanie Lake Co. – Double Blind; Luke GEORGE – Erotic Dance; Asia TOPA – XO State.
Brendon D. BOYD of BoydDesign, Inc. has been production managing and lighting concerts, theatre, special and corporate event for nearly two decades. After receiving his MFA from UCONN in 2002, Brendon moved to New York City to further his career in production, specifically lighting design. He has worked with clients such as Danny ELFMAN & Tim BURTON, Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, The Czech Symphony Orchestra, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! and many more. His theatre credits include William KENTRIDGE’S Paper Music (Carnegie Hall), Refuse the Hour (Brooklyn Academy of Music and Yale), Carrie Mae WEEMS’ Grace Notes (Yale) and others.
The people on stage
HIM Savy & CHHORN Sam Ath
HIM Savy is a singer, flutist and teacher at the Secondary School of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. CHHORN Sam Ath is a well-known singer and actor, who also teaches at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. In 2007, Sam Ath was invited to perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Both singers hail from famous artist families and performed extensively in Cambodia, New Zealand and the US.
KEO Dorivan, KEO Sonankavei, KEO Sophy, POV Reaksmeymony, SAY Tola, SNGOUN Kavei Serey Roth
The ensemble features some of the leading instrumentalists and vocalists in Cambodia, who have travelled and performed extensively around the world, as well as some emerging musicians. Previous performances took members of the ensemble to China, Korea, Singapore and the United States. At present, some ensemble members work as independent artists while others teach at the Faculty of Music at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh.
New York & Boston
Metropolis Ensemble is a dynamically evolving 21st Century Orchestra. Dedicated to creating a future for classical music that is of and for the time we live in, Metropolis Ensemble’s driving force is its founder and artistic director, Andrew CYR, a Grammy Award-nominated orchestra conductor. Metropolis Ensemble through its unique collaborative process, exists to support ascending contemporary classical performers and composers, often engaging them with other bleeding-edge cultural innovators and artists.
Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Melbourne, New York & Boston
Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir, a 36-voice professional group, has been to all continents of the world, and is now one of the most known choral ensembles internationally. They are often presented in international events, such as the World Symposium on Choral Music, Oregon Bach Festival, ACDA National Conventions, among others. In 2016, the choir performed in the “Holy Mass and Canonization of Blessed Mother Theresa” in Vatican. Their recent projects include concerts in Australia, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, and the USA.
CHUMVAN ‘Belle’ Sodhachivy
Performer & Assistant to the Director of Staging
CHUMVAN ‘Belle’ Sodhachivy is a dancer/choreographer of Amrita Performing Arts, a contemporary dance and producing organization from Cambodia. Trained in Cambodian classical dance, Belle graduated in 2007 from the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh. With Amrita, Belle has participated in numerous contemporary dance workshops and residencies around the world and has been a featured dancer in many works by international directors and choreographers including Peter SELLARS. Currently, Belle is also a dance lecturer at RUFA’s Faculty of Choreographic Arts.
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music
Since its founding in 2003, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (Singapore) has quickly established a reputation as Asia’s most exciting international conservatory and one of the world’s most distinctive. Centred on nurturing artistic identity as a driver for excellence, it offers full-time tertiary programmes alongside broader community platforms, and its students and alumni are visible within and beyond Singapore as performers, composers, producers and community leaders. YST is grateful for the kind support of the Chenter Foundation Cathy & Tony Chen Community Outreach Fund.
Cambodian Living Arts
For almost 20 years, Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) has worked tirelessly to regrow Cambodia’s arts sector and provide opportunities for artists to write the story of the country’s future. Founded in 1998 by genocide survivor, musician, and peace advocate Arn CHORN-POND, they initially focused on the preservation of endangered performing art forms and rituals. After the Khmer Rouge regime, 90% of Cambodia’s artists did not survive and arts that had been transmitted between generations were in danger of being lost forever.
Over the past two decades, the work of CLA has changed in line with the development of Cambodia and the rapidly re-emerging arts sector. Noting the need to nurture talent and equip emerging artists and young leaders with the skills and opportunities they need to start sustainable careers in the arts, they offer scholarships, fellowships, and other training opportunities; provide employment opportunities through regular performances and festivals, and create opportunities for international exchanges, research, and networking.
Looking forward, CLA will focus more on stimulating creativity and innovation in the arts sector. They will continue to build links between the arts sector in Cambodia and those of neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and further afield. They are also seeking to better integrate arts and culture into the Cambodian public school curriculum while also increasing performance opportunities for Cambodian artists.
THE OFFICE performing arts + film
THE OFFICE performing arts + film is an independent curator and production company based in New York and London. we work in ongoing partnerships with festivals, venues, and institutions to create cultural programming that is unique and mission specific, with a particular emphasis on serving communities. Across all of our projects, we aspire to create new cultural platforms that resonate with audiences of all shapes and sizes. THE OFFICE is the Curator of Performing Arts and Film at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, programs the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, New York’s longest running free outdoor performing arts festival, and created and programs the CenterSeries at the Williams College ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. The past year has brought many wonderful and diverse highlights. In our continuing work with South African artist William KENTRIDGE, we had the pleasure of producing his expansive project Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome, which revitalized the banks of the Tiber River with a semi-permanent 500-meter frieze. We are also in the midst of producing Carrie Mae WEEMS’ powerful new piece Grace Notes, which examines themes of race and identity in our current political moment.
And on the other side of the globe, we are producing Rithy PANH and HIM Sophy’s Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, a project that reflects on the Khmer Rouge regime and its aftermath through film, music, and choreography. These multi-faceted undertakings are united by their commitment to the close link between art-making, community building, and social justice.
Taipei Philharmonic Foundation for Culture and Education
Taipei Philharmonic Foundation for Culture and Education was established in 1988, with the mission of enriching performing-art environment in Taiwan, and promoting Taiwanese culture to the world. The foundation has been supporting local groups such as Choirs, Orchestras, Opera Studio and Musical Theater, with the goals of promoting music in Taiwan. Furthermore, several of them have performed internationally and gain great recognitions worldwide. The annual “Taipei International Choral Festival”, which brings in fabulous music from all around the world, has continually brings stimulation to the local music fields. With the support of the public and enterprises, the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation will surely make more efforts to develop local musical performances while simultaneously making its music available to the international stage.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) is a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York. For more than 150 years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas—engaging both global and local communities. With world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.
Asia TOPA / Arts Centre Melbourne
Situated in the heart of Melbourne’s cultural precinct, Arts Centre Melbourne takes a leading role in the creative life of one of the world’s great multi-cultural cities. Our long history of celebrating the artists from our region recently culminated in the first Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts, a summer long festival of collaborations, partnerships and commissions focusing on Australia’s connections with contemporary Asia. We are honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with our friends at Cambodian Living Arts and THE OFFICE to bring Bangsokol to the stages of the world.