July 13, 2017
Good morning everyone. I am honored to be here today for this special day celebrating Cambodia’s newest composition, Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia. Congratulations to Phloeun Prim for his leadership of Cambodian Living Arts, as well as to the amazingly talented Dr. Him Sophy, Dr. Rithy Panh, and the entire team who worked on this new piece.
Cambodian Living Arts has done an incredible job of elevating and preserving the arts in Cambodia, and the U.S. Embassy is proud to have collaborated with Cambodian Living Arts on various projects over the years. The Embassy is delighted to have supported this particular project by bringing Grammy-nominated U.S. conductor Andrew Cyr to Cambodia. While here in Cambodia, Andrew will take on a few different projects, including working with some of the musicians involved in Bangsokol to prepare them for their tour to New York and Boston in December.
As you all know, this piece is a memorial to the tragedies of the 1970s Khmer Rouge period. But more importantly, it is about hope and continuance. I know it will be a very touching experience to audiences who have a chance to hear it in New York and Boston, including the Cambodian-American communities who lived through this period. The U.S. Embassy is committed to honoring the memory of Khmer Rouge victims and their resilience and to ensure that this part of Cambodian history is not forgotten. In March, for example, USAID announced its support of Phka Sla Krom Angkar, a dance performance that aims to address the harm suffered by those who were subjected to sexual and gender-based violence by the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Arts Academy; Kdei Karuna; the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center; and the Transcultural Psychological Organization all collaborated to make this project a success.
Preserving Cambodian history through the arts, especially through the power of music, is so essential. It is heartening to see the collaboration between a variety of organizations and artists within Cambodia and abroad on projects like Bangsokol and Phka Sla. By working together, the Cambodian arts community will only grow stronger.
The U.S. Embassy remains committed to fostering a lively and creative arts community in Cambodia, and I salute the courage and creativity of Cambodian Living Arts, Dr. Him Sophy and Dr. Rithy Panh once again for this wonderful achievement. Thank you all for coming today.