Dear Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my very great pleasure to announce the 13th Music Festival in Phnom Penh. I am delighted that this Festival plays an important part in the continuing growth and development of Culture and the Arts in Cambodia.

There are wonderful physical structures that represent whole societies, such as the temple complexes at Angkor Wat. In the same way, there are cultural wonders that also symbolize their time. Shakespeare is one of these. He is a symbol for the developments in art, architecture, literature, science and the innovation in society that are called the Renaissance Period in Europe.

2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. His work will be celebrated all over the world and I am proud that Cambodia is a part of this celebration. It is important to showcase the creativity of the artists of that age and experience how they worked with the instruments and ideas of their age to develop music and bring it into everyday cultural life.

Song has always been a popular art form in Cambodia. People, young and old, use song to express their emotion and vision of our culture. During the European Renaissance period, the blending of words and music developed remarkably. In this Festival programme we will particularly experience how this integration of forms brought both to new heights.

I am delighted that the Phnom Penh Music Festival continues to grow from year to year. It offers an insight into cultural development elsewhere and is an established feature of our own cultural life, nurturing human understanding and sharing.

Phoeurng Sackona
Minister of Culture and Fine Arts

Phoeurng Sackona
Minister of
Culture and Fine Arts

I am very pleased that the European Union Delegation is able to support the latest – 13th – International Music Festival in Phnom Penh. I congratulate the ART plus Foundation and its Program Director Anton Isselhardt on assembling a fascinating programme and a cast of talented musicians to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

The music of the European Renaissance is not as widely known as the classical and romantic music of the 18th and 19th centuries, but it was a period that produced a wealth of instrumental and vocal music that combined courtly elegance with direct appeal to the emotions, and that broadened the expressive range of music in the way that Shakespeare was doing with the language of poetry and the theatre.

Shakespeare is an artist whose work speaks across borders, and has become universal. I hope the music offered in this year’s Festival will speak directly to a Cambodian audience, and enable them to share in an important part of Europe’s cultural heritage.

I believe strongly that contacts between people are as important a part of international relations as diplomatic meetings and high-level discussions of politics and trade. Cultural exchanges can help bring us together, and in today’s complex world that is more important than ever. I wish success to the International Music Festival, and enjoyable listening to all who attend this excellent series of concerts.

George Edgar
Ambassador of the European Union to Cambodia

George Edgar
Ambassador of the
European Union to the
Kingdom of Cambodia

Dear music and poetry lovers,

For the eleventh year, Phnom Penh, with its  increasingly numerous The International Music Festival with a focus on classical European music has become a regular event in the annual cultural calendar of Phnom Penh. For the 13th time a growing audience of music lovers will be able to listen to a series of concerts and recitals performed by international and local artists.

The German Embassy has been a supporter of this annual event, founded by German national, Mr Anton Isselhardt, since its inception. Every year we, the audience, are able to experience the wealth of European music under a new theme. This is always a good opportunity to reflect one’s own culture and cultural heritage of others.

This year’s festival is an homage to the famous British writer, poet and actor William Shakespeare and his time, the Renaissance. Shakespeare died 400 ago, but his works of drama and poetry still are as popular as ever, not only in his native country, but in Europe and all over the world – a true world artist. His popularity in Germany is demonstrated by the fact that his sonnets are the most translated foreign language literature after the bible.

Shakespeare’s poetry and music go hand in hand. Many of his works bear the structure of musical pieces and have inspired composers to set them to music ever since they had been created.

During the era of Renaissance new harmonies and new instruments have been introduced into music. This happened at a time when Europe was also undergoing a lot of changes in the still early stages of the age of Enlightenment– the reformation and role of the religion, the establishment of the first colonial settlements and a growing challenging of the feudal systems. These changes have significantly influenced our modern world.

Being still a very new Ambassador to Cambodia, I am happy to being able share this exciting musical and poetic experience for the first time.

Dr Ingo Karsten
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany 

Dr Ingo Karsten
Ambassador of the F R of Germany

Dear Music Lovers,

I am pleased to invite you to explore European Renaissance Music. The central inspirational figure - William Shakespeare - indeed influenced Drama and Music. His stage directions call for music more than 300 times, and his plays are full of beautiful tributes to music. The Festival will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616.

The Renaissance in music occurred between 1450 and 1625, including the transitional period from Renaissance to Early Baroque. As in the other arts, the horizons of music were greatly expanded. The circulation of music and the number of composers and performers increased. The humanistic interest in language (Shakespeare and his contemporaries) influenced vocal music, creating a close relationship between words and music. Renaissance composers wrote music to enhance the meaning and emotion of the text.

The festival program is a snapshot of the musical life during the European Renaissance and leads us to refined musical forms, such as the opera during the end of the period. In six concerts, you will experience selected songs, poetry and pure instrumental forms. These performing practices took place mostly in domestic interiors in a private sphere of all milieu of society.

I look forward to welcome again international artists, with their luggage of historical Instruments including a Spinet, Lute, and Viola da Gamba, to perform music from: England, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain

I warmly invite all music lovers, young and old and also those new to classical music to take full advantage of the feast of music offered by this year’s concert program of European Renaissance music. I look forward to enjoying some wonderful musical experiences with you all.

Anton Isselhardt
Festival Director 

Anton Isselhardt
Festival Director