Saturday, November 03, 2007

The big Angkor secret

According to Stephen Brookes in the Washington Post tomorrow, the big Angkor secret is.... Angkor: When It Rains, You Score - he recommends you visit Angkor in the rainy season to avoid the crowds. Read his trip article here. Hardly a secret, but it is a great time to see the temples without the bus-loads of Koreans, Japanese, etc that are invading the Angkor complex at the moment. I was talking to someone last night at the monthly Elsewhere party (which I really disliked) who went to Angkor Wat for an hour or so, couldn't cope with the crowds at all and decided to retire to a watering-hole in Siem Reap to recover from the shock. Another related their visit to Ta Prohm where some tourists were climbing the trees that choke the temple, to get their 'special photo souvenir' of their visit, without any regard for other visitors, the sanctity of the temples and the potential damage they could cause.

Another news article from Cambodia, What's new? by John O'Mahony, looks at Cambodia's idyllic beaches in today's Guardian newspaper in the UK. Read his report here.
Friday saw the opening of a new museum in Siem Reap. Its called the Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum and was officially inaugurated by King Norodom Sihamoni, who took the opportunity to visit the Angkor complex today. The museum was built with the assistance of Sophia University in Japan and was funded to the tune of $1 million by the Japanese retail company, Neon. Named after the former king, Sihamoni's father, it will house 274 statues excavated at the Banteay Kdei Temple in 2001 by the Sophia University Angkor International Mission. The building is equipped with high-tech security measures to prevent thievery. My sources also tell me that the brand spanking new Angkor National Museum may well open its doors for the first time on Monday 12 November. I will believe it when I see it.
Talking of Cambodia and its Museums, does anyone have a spare copy of Museum International Magazine, volumes 213/214, that was published in 2002? It was titled, Angkor, a living museum and was full of interesting articles on Angkor & Cambodia. You can read more about this particular issue of the magazine here. If anyone has a spare copy that I can have, I will be eternally grateful.
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DPA Microphones has donated a pair of 4091 omnidirectional instrument mics to Studio CLA in Phnom Penh. The studio, set up by US producer Scot Stafford in conjunction with the Cambodian Living Arts project, documents and records the repertoire and skills of Cambodia's master musicians for the next generation of musicians. The project is supported by Peter Gabriel's Real World organisation, which arranged the donation of audio equipment as well as sending experienced recording technicians to assist on key projects. Real World became involved last year when Gabriel's studio and monitor engineer Richard Chappell visited Cambodia and met Kong Nay, one of Cambodia's few surviving master musicians. Kong Nay subsequently performed at last summer's WOMAD festival, followed by a UK tour organised, booked, promoted and engineered by Chappell to raise funds for the musicians' cause. Chappell then returned to Cambodia to deliver the mics and other equipment to the studio. They were put to work recording music for a rock opera, Where Elephants Weep, which combines traditional Khmer music with Western styles to create the first-known contemporary Cambodian opera. The recordings are for a CD to support the opera when it opens in Phnom Penh next year.
The score, by Russian-trained Cambodian composer Sophy Him and co-producer Scot Stafford, draws on classical western, ancient Cambodian, and contemporary popular American music. Sophy Him worked together with an instrument designer to 'reinvent' some traditional Cambodian instruments, called a Gong thom chromatique and Roneat aik chromatique, which have both Cambodian and Western scales. "These are twice the size of normal Cambodian instruments so it was great to have the DPA omnis, as they gave us a much larger pickup area due to their sensitivity," says Chappell. "We used them as the main recording mics for both instruments, the optimum position being as left and right overheads. The sound of the capsules is very open and uncoloured; a great way of representing something which has such a unique sound. "When it came to recording the kick drum, I found that a single 4091 was a great addition. Sophy was very excited with the representation of his instruments, and with the help of DPA Microphones, Studio CLA is being brought right up to date." - by Jim Evans.

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