from the Cambodia Daily, May 25, 2000

Free Concerts Honor Classic Music of Roluos

by Jody McPhillips

Three groups of students from the Roluos area southeast of Siem Reap win perform the area's distinctive Khmer music in three free concerts starting tonight.

AH concerts will start at 6 pm at the Reyum Gallery, No 47 St 178. Commentary tonight will be in English; Friday and Saturday, most likely in Khmer.

"We will vary the program, depending on what people want to hear," said musicologist Um Mongkol, who has been working since 1994 to help revive the traditions of Khmer classical music. The 27 students, ranging in age from 14 to 20, are part of his recent effort to preserve variations in traditional music from region to region. For example, he said, musicians from Siem Reap have a softer style than those trained in Phnom Penh, using two oboes in the classic pin peat orchestra rather than one.

Like other Khmer traditional musicians, Um Mongkol is intent on restoring what was nearly lost in Cambodia.

Um Mongkol, who earns his living as a structural engineer, has set up music schools at pagodas in the Roluos area, harking back to the days when each temple had its own orchesjtra.

Tin trying to test whether the Cambodian way of teaching music will work," he said. "So far, it does, perfectly well"