Waiting in the Wings Before a Concert
Dear friends and supporters of our school,
Before I begin this report I would like to thank you on behalf of us all at our school, for your most generous and vital support.
Those of you who have supported this particular project know that the children who live outside our school and come here for lessons, have quite challenging lives and greatly benefit from being able to come to our school.
Today this report will be about the lives of our students who are musicians. All of those who come for music lessons, whether Mahori or Pin Peat are very talented. They come to study with our masters, not only because of love of music, but because they are so gifted that they will almost certainly become professional musicians.
Whenever we do an official performance say for His Majesty the King, or at the National Theatre or for a special event at our school, such as when both the U.S. and British Ambassadors came to our school together with the Secretary of State for Culture. Then you will find our outreach students performing in the wings. They perform together with our residential students and they form an orchestra. If there is a dance performance or a shadow puppet performance, they will sit to the side unoticed by the audience and create beautiful music. As the dancers perform or the puppeteers make theatre, the musicians watch closely, so that their music is in exact time with the dancer's feet or the intricate story lines of the puppetry. The Roneat Ek player (Alto xylophone made out of bamboo) is the leader and on his or her shoulders lies the responsibility to set the pace and start at the right time, with everyone following in harmony. Often the Pin Peat master Sambo takes this role, but gradually in time one of his students will take over.
Musicians all over the world know the experience of perfoming in the wings, sometimes out of sight, but with a role so important that if someone were to play wrong, it would send everything in tilt.
Some of our Mohori students are from a previous course, a partnership we did with Epic Arts, where we gave free tuition to their disabled students in traditional Cambodian music. Even after the course had finished, some were so enthusiastic they stayed on of their own accord. One is a youth who lost both arms in an accident when he worked in an ice-crushing factory. He has the most beautiful voice and has learned and is learning a large range of Mohori and Plein Ka (wedding music). Another young woman is blind in one eye and losing the sight in her other and is a wonderful Roneat player.
These our students who have come out of very difficult backgrounds, but yet come with good humour and self-discipline even when it's raining, show what is possible and help make our school a better place. We wish for them every success and we will go on teaching them until such time as they feel able to start their professional lives, solo. Thank you so much for supporting them!
Just a quick note (and that is not a pun)........for those of you who are interested in supporting our micro- project # 29610 "Saving Lives Through Providing Transport" for those of our special needs children who need urgent medical care in hospital 137km away from Kampot in Phnom Penh. We still have a few days left, if you want to help.
(Photographs kind courtesy of Steve Porte: Permission was granted before taking photographs).
The Pin Peat masters son waiting for his dad!