Introducing Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia | Fall 2017
December 11, 2017
The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129 St.
New York, NY 10027
December 11, 2017 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Rithy Panh, filmmaker
Phloeun Prim, Cambodian Living Arts
Him Sophy, composer
Trent Walker, librettist
Introduced and co-moderated by Shanny Peer, Columbia Maison Française, and Dean Carol Becker, Columbia University School of the Arts
This conversation introduced New York audiences to Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia—an extraordinary new composition that fuses music, voice, movement, and visuals—commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts and premiering in the US as part of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2017 Next Wave Festival to honor the two million victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. It is the first major symphonic work that addresses the traumas of the late 1970s in Cambodia, and the first collaboration between filmmaker Rithy Panh and composer Him Sophy, both survivors of the Khmer Rouge and now at the forefront of Cambodia’s cultural renaissance.
Panh calls Bangsokol a “vital act of memory. It is an attempt to give dignity to the dead; to reconcile with our own past; to give a face and a name to the victims, to give their souls peace.” The work contextualizes the form of the Western requiem with bangsokol—the white cloth placed over the deceased during a Buddhist funeral, and the ceremony of its removal. Panh’s mixture of archival footage and surreal imagery offer meditations on Cambodia’s culture and history, while Sophy’s score melds traditional Khmer instrumentalists and smot chanting with Western chamber music and chorus.
This conversation explored this fusion of forms, as well as the role of art in post-conflict societies.
Co-presented by Columbia Maison Française and Columbia University School of the Arts
The US premiere of Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia will take place on Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.