Accessibility links

Breaking News

‘Elephants’ Music Composer Looks Ahead

Following the success of the Cambodian rock opera “Where Elephants Weep,” composer Him Sophy is back to work on new music.

“Where Elephants Weep” was a contemporary show unlike anything Cambodians had seen, and Him Sophy spent seven years producing it. Now, the composer told VOA Khmer in an interview, he is creating new musical performances, including traditional music, to bring more visitors to Cambodia.

“I am composing music for Cambodian tourism called, ‘Cambodia Is a Kingdom of Wonder,” he said.

The idea is to introduce would-be visitors to Cambodia through song and video.

“This music will make the tourists in the world interested and want to visit our Cambodia,” he said.

Him Sophy said he would also like to write music to commemorate Cambodians who died under the Khmer Rouge and will produce a soundtrack for a film produced by the Women’s Media Center.

The US Embassy has asked him to write music for a concert “to remember the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and America,” he said. “I will write some rock music and a lot of pop music.”

Him Sophy earned a doctorate degree in music composition after 13 years in Moscow. He then studied three more years and received a doctorate in Arts and Science. He also took a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study in New York and California.

The composer has future plans for “Where Elephants Weep,” hoping to bring it to a wider audience, including a performance in Long Beach, Calif., home to the largest US population of Cambodians.

“The economic crisis has delayed us a little bit, but we will try to go there,” he said. “The Cambodians in America want to see Khmer rock opera.”

Him Sophy is working in an environment where rock and pop music are gaining popularity. There are many concerts across Cambodia, and several music companies have been able to make it in the industry.

However, Cambodia’s musicians are still weak in playing Western-style music or instruments, such as the piano, violin, trumpet, saxophone or trombone.

Meanwhile, there are few composers or songwriters who can create original Cambodian rock, choosing instead to mimic foreign songs and adding Khmer lyrics.

Him Sophy said that not many people want to create original music because Cambodia does not have a copyright law to protect their compositions. A stronger law would see more original creations, he said.

Him Sophy was scheduled to discuss his activities at a lecture on Wednesday at the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture in Phnom Penh.