BAM 2017 Next Wave Festival Presents “Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia”

“Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia” is a unique international co-produced theatrical music program, commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts – with co-commissioners Taipei Philharmonic Foundation for Culture and Education, Arts Centre Melbourne and Brooklyn Academy of Music – that will take place on December 15-16 at BAM 2017 Next Wave Festival. Taipei Cultural Center in New York held a press conference at Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York to announce the details of the productions with special guests including Taiwan Ambassador Lily Hsu, Director of Taipei Cultural Center of New York Susan Yu, Brooklyn Academy of Music Associate Producer Amy Cassello, Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Music Director and Conductor Johnny Ku and staff from the Cambodian Living Arts including Chair of the Board Dr. Richard C. Helfer, Co-Founder John Burt, Executive Director Phloeun Prim, Director of Program and Operations Frances Rudgard and Composer Dr. Him Sophy.

Survivors of the Khmer Rouge, and the core creators of Bangsokol, composer Him Sophy and filmmaker Rithy Panh attempt to return dignity to their country’s dead with this musical remembering the Cambodian genocide. Against cinematic evocations of this tragic history, “Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia” includes the Metropolis Ensemble (USA), the Taipei Philharmonic Chamber Choir (Taiwan), and traditional Khmer vocalists and instruments (ancient harps, flutes, and the xylophone-like roneat pluah) in an ensemble to mourn the nearly two million lost souls. Mellifluous Buddhist smot chanting and other all-but-extinct Khmer musical forms are woven throughout a procession that moves from the heavens to the killing fields, culminating in a plea to recognize impermanence as the only path to peace.

The international creative and production team consists of artists and experts from a number of countries, including Librettist Trent Walker, Director of Staging Gideon Obarzanek, Music Director and Conductor Andrew Cyr, Lighting designer Benjamin Bosco Shaw, and Costume designer Romyda Keth.

Prior to embarking on its world tour, the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation for Culture and Education hosted the international creative and production team for a two-week-long workshop, rehearsal and preview performance in Taiwan. The tour marks the first art project funded by Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (the policy was launched in 2016 with the goal of increasing cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australasia) with grants from The Rainbow Initiative of the Ministry of Culture Taiwan.

After BAM 2017 Next Wave, “Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia” will perform at ArtsEmerson in Boston, tour France and Taiwan in 2018, and finally return to Cambodia in 2019 for the 40 year commemoration of the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

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