Thursday, January 17, 2008

Meta student night

Punisa and her roneat dek xylophone
For the third of Meta House's Wednesday night Khmix It! performances - focusing on traditional Cambodian music from students of the NGO Cambodian Living Arts - 17-year-old high school student Pov Punisa displayed her adept skills on the roneat dek, a metal xylophone or metallophone, for an hour and answered a variety of questions from the audience. Punisa began studying the roneat dek three years ago, memorizing the teachings of the master of an instrument that is usually part of a pinpeat ensemble. The undecorated sound box is supported by four legs and is made of hardwood while the twenty-one sound bars are usually made of bronze. Like most of CLA's students, Punisa is paid a stipend by the NGO to encourage her and her parents to maintain her studies against the distractions of teenage life and the need to survive in a tough environment like Phnom Penh. The CLA has around 300 students like Punisa, who are making a major contribution to the revival of traditional Khmer art forms across the country. Links: CLA; Meta House.
After the performance I had a drink with a good friend of mine, Eric de Vries, who gave me a much-appreciated present of copies of some of his photographs that will soon go on exhibition at the McDermott Gallery in Siem Reap. Eric is on assignment in Cambodia for six months and is loving it here. Read my review of Eric's book, Images of Cambodia, here and visit his excellent new website here.

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