Some 500 concertgoers, for the first time in almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, got together to enjoy the Musica Felice Charity Concert on Sunday, organised by Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra hotel at its ballroom.
The concert was organised to support Preah Ream Buppha Devi Nginn Karet Conservatoire and Phare Ponleu Selpak. Both of these organisations provide a sustainable livelihood for many villagers through their arts. They are professional artists called the ‘Sacred Dancers of Angkor’ and they perform live shows which portray a unique spiritual dimension dating back to the Angkorian time.
However, these artists were badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as their income depended on tourists who dropped in to watch their stage performances held in various parts of the Kingdom.
The almost two-hour concert was supported by the French Embassy and sponsored by Yamada Angkor Animation Co, Ltd, Grant Thornton (Cambodia) Limited, VT Engineering & Construction (Cambodia), Northbridge International School Cambodia (NISC), Bellevue Serviced Apartments, Sahas Advisory & Consulting Co, Ltd, Arakawa Residence and SokSiphana&associates.
Being an organiser and a sponsor, Sofitel took great pains to implement all the Standard Operating Procedures of the Ministry of Health to ensure that all guests were relaxed and enjoyed the concert ‘Musica Felice’ which was conducted by the famous pianist Miwako Fujiwara and her choir team who kept the audience in awe with their mesmerising music and songs.
The guests, amongst whom there was the Minister of Culture, Phoeurng Sackona, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Cambodia Tina Redshaw and Eva Nguyen Binh, French Ambassador to Cambodia.
They were also delighted by two aspiring blind vocalists, who sang exceptionally well and kept them entertained with their beautiful voices.
There was also a photo animation prepared by Yamada Takakazu which was displayed on an LED video wall-screen that delivered seamless animation with a high-quality display that was launched at Sofitel on New Year’s Day.
Gymnasts from ‘Phare Ponleu Selpak – or Phare, The Cambodian Circus’ also performed a breath-taking performance called ‘United as one from “Samaki” show’.
Miwako (the pianist) thanked all the guests including the High Commissioners and Ambassadors for taking time off from their busy schedules to attend the concert. She said: “I think we all know how much music can heal our hearts and give us the strength to move on. Listening to live music is very soothing. I extend my deepest gratitude to those who made it in reality. I am very honoured to have the presence of foreign envoys and the Minister of Culture.”
Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra’s marketing and communications manager Clement Perocheau said: “At Sofitel, we embrace culture and arts. Nginn Karet Conservatoire and Phare Ponleu Selpak are well known in the community for providing a sustainable livelihood for villagers through arts. We would like to particularly thank Nguyen Binh for her support in organising this charity concert.”
Redshaw said: “It is fantastic to see that the ballroom was filled with guests and it looks like everyone is happy to be out finally to enjoy a good concert. The music is great and very uplifting.”
Sackona said: “The concert is very good, I enjoyed the animation. I think that it is time such activities become more frequent. Because of COVID-19 we are aware of all the precautionary measures we should take and people are following it, so coming out to see the concert is a good thing. The donation for the association is a very good move to help the artists during these difficult times and I hope that this kind of activities are organised more and more to support them.”
The tickets for the concert were sold from $3 for Khmer students, $5 for children under 12 years old, $12 for a standard seat and $25 for a premier seat. Guests who presented their tickets after the event were able to redeem a 10 percent discount in the restaurants and bar at Sofitel. The hotel collected $5,000 which will be equally divided and given to Nginn Karet Conservatoire and Phare Ponleu Selpak.
Sofitel’s hotel manager Lionel Formento said: “It gave us a great honour to organise and support this concert for such a noble cause. We wanted to hold it earlier but I am glad it finally took off. We were delighted to welcome all our guests at this charity concert.”
This is the sixth concert organised at Sofitel and the hotel is already looking forward to another one this year. The concert was supposed to be held on December 13 last year but was rescheduled to January 10.