It is a pleasure for me to welcome You all to the 5th International Music Festival Phnom Penh. This 5th anniversary and the growing audiences over the last years prove that in Cambodia and especially in Phnom Penh is a real need for such cultural activities. There is a real demand to present traditional music from our country and the West, but also to open our ears for contemporary tendencies that reflect our time.

The Cambodian society knows quite well that art has always to be an integral part of life. Only in arts ethical, moral, philosophical and even sensual values are transported and continuously evaluated. Especially after great sufferings and a more economically orientated phase of reconstruction, the Cambodian society tries increasingly to recover its own richness and is also interested in discovering trans-cultural values represented by the arts. We also know that arts are the best playground for the discourse between nations, ethnics and individuals. This does not mean that an East-West dialogue must always be reflected in such a festival’s program as it had happened especially last year. Sometimes the encompassing exposure to a special period of art may open our minds in another way. Western Baroque music has always been regarded as the “cradle” of Western art music. And it was also during the Baroque period that the music developments happened mainly at the feudal courts in Europe. By that, similarities to our court music may be evident, and perhaps in the end we may discover some trans-cultural elements in these two cultural realms that we haven’t known before.

I am pleased that with this festival and other regular music activities, FWCPA is trying to develop the Cambodian art life on various levels, including our own traditional music and contemporary developments of it. I wish the festival a big success and I am looking forward to its continuation in the next years.

H.E. Veng Sereyvuth
Senior Minister, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts

H.E. Veng Sereyvuth
Senior Minister, Minister of
Culture and Fine Arts

This year the International Music Festival Phnom Penh will celebrate its 5th birthday. The festival now has secured an important place in the cultural calendar of Phnom Penh and Cambodia as a whole. The festival, thanks to his artistic director Anton Isselhardt, has grown over the years and has become stronger and more mature.

This year the focus of the festival will be on the life and work of the Bach Family who in the 18th century had been a large family of highly talented musicians. They left to the world of music an immense heritage of works of classical music. Of course Johann Sebastian is most famous, but the Festival will give us plenty of opportunities to enjoy the music of all members of this most gifted family.

The decision to devote this year's festival to the Bach family is no surprise. The city of Weimar, where Johann Sebastian Bach in the years 1708 to 1717 had worked and created about 75 % of his compositions this year commemorates his arrival in Weimar 300 years ago with a festival which is highlighting as well his personal work as the work of all of the Bach family. Thus there is a direct link established between Phnom Penh and Weimar, a city where so many Cambodians had been trained and educated not so long ago and which they see as their second home abroad.

The German Embassy – as in the years before - takes pride to contribute to the festival together with a number of German institutions in particular the Goethe Institute. We are grateful to the art-plus Foundation to keep the festival alive. We believe in the magic of music and its possibilities to foster Cultural exchange. The contributions of young musicians from Germany, Cambodia and a number of other countries make the festival an event of international cooperation and understanding. Musicians all over the world speak the same language and we, the audience, have the joy to listen to their message.

Frank Markus Mann
German Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia

Frank M. Mann,
German Ambassador to the
Kingdom of Cambodia

I am pleased to welcome you to the 5th International Music Festival Phnom Penh.

Around the year 1600, the demands for new art forms and expressions became evident, especially in the secular environment. After almost 1,000 years of the Middle Ages followed by the Renaissance, a new musical period came into being, which is now known as Baroque.

Baroque music for example was extremely innovative and implies radical extensions of form, irregularity and extravagance in turbulent times of many revolutionary cultural movements. At the same time the royal courts competed in having the biggest orchestras and best chamber music musicians. By that they prepared the ground for an encompassing music production.

For that example of a great fecundity - a reflection on 150 years of Baroque period is also of great benefit for the Cambodian society and supports to master the challenges of our interconnected globalized world in the twenty-first century.

Come and listen to what especially the Bach’s had to say – through their music !

Anton Isselhardt
Program Director ART+Foundation

Anton Isselhardt
Program Director ART+Foundation