The 16th International Music Festival Phnom Penh had a successful run at Raffles Hotel Le Royal last weekend, garnering the attendance of hundreds of classical musical enthusiasts over the span of three days.
Staged between Nov 1-3, the festival staged four concerts that glorified the works of female European composers, with the main focus on renowned German pianist from the Romantic era, Clara Schumann.
In commemoration of her 200th birthday this year, the festival took the audience on a musical journey revolving on Schumann’s crafts with the first two concerts dubbed ‘The Music of Marriage’ and ‘Memories of Clara Schumann’.
The first concert was performed by Bangk Piano Trio which consisted of Rolf-Dieter Arens on piano, Chitipat Darapong on violin and Stefanie Waegner on cello. According to the festival guide, Clara’s piece dubbed ‘Piano Trio’ was composed in 1846 — six years into her marriage to fellow composer Robert Schumann.
Clara was highly celebrated for her playing which was once described as displaying a ‘masterful technique, beautiful tone and poetic spirit’. While she continued to have an illustrious career as a concert pianist for over 60 years, her compositional talent would be overshadowed by her husband’s.
The second concert at the Raffles festival saw a phenomenal tribute to the Schumanns and Johannes Brahms — a fellow artist who completed his third ‘Piano Sonata in F minor’ while residing at the Schumanns’ home. It featured the talented Prof Srdjan Caldarovic from Zagreb, Croatia.
Meanwhile, four-hand piano duo Nakaishi/Sakano also paid homage to other female European composers in the likes of Marie Jaëll, Cécile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre, Mel Bonis and Fanny Mendelssohn during the Sunday matinée.
The event was capped off with the world premiere of ‘Ici, le jour se lève’, a composition by female Cambodian composer Bosba Phan, but was performed by the Bangk Piano Trio.
What’s unique is that the 22-year-old had just completed her Bachelor of Music in Composition from the New England Conservatory in Boston, making her possibly the first Cambodian woman composer and also the fourth generation of Cambodian composers both inside and outside of the country.
The three-day musical celebration was presented by KDKG and Meta House-Goethezentrum and also supported by partnerships with The Piano Shop, Raffles – Le Royale, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, the European Union, the German Embassy, and the Cambodian Ministry of Culture.