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In Tribute, Musicians Perform Songs of Sihanouk

Foreign tourists, right, walk in front of Cambodia's late King Norodom Sihanouk portrait ahead of his funeral, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The body of Sihanouk who died on Oct. 15, 2012 at age 89, is scheduled to be cremated on Feb. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
PHNOM PENH - Norodom Sihanouk, the revered former king whose cremation ceremonies begin on Friday, was a music lover, singer and composer.

In Phnom Penh, two separate groups of music students have decided to pay tribute to the former monarch by performing some of his favorite music. The musicians say that though the “King Father” is gone, his songs remain.

Opera student Hy Kimchanthavuth, recently performed in Phnom Penh, singing three Sihanouk classics: “Charming Lady,” “November Breeze” and “Love Without Hope.”

“The reason I sing the Grandfather King’s songs is that I want to remind the people of his works, which were left behind for the next generations,” he told VOA Khmer.

Sihnaouk died in Beijing in October. His body will be cremated Feb. 4, following procession ceremonies that begin Friday.

Hy Kimchanthavuth, a 28-year-old tenor who is studying at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Canada, said he has always been proud to perform the late monarch’s songs.

“Every time I perform both in Canada and in Cambodia, I want to show the world that I had an outstanding king who could compose and performed in arts,” he said.

Sihanouk was a patron of the arts, a filmmaker and music composer. His works air consistently on Cambodian television, providing inspiration for many of a younger generation.

In Tribute, Musicians Perform Songs of Sihanouk
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At a recent concert organized by Cambodian and Korean musicians, students performed some of his songs as a remembrance of his legacy.

Tenor Nhoeng Kanol, from the Royal University of Fine Arts, sang one of the late king’s favorites, “Prey Prasith.”

“I cannot forget his work, because he was the one who demanded independence from France so that our country could have peace again,” Nhoeng Kanol said.

Yos Chandara, dean of music at the Royal University of Fine Arts, organized the concert.

“Although His Majesty has passed away, we must remember his works, so that they won’t be lost,” he said.

Both artists and audience said Sihanouk’s work will remain in their hearts, though he is gone.

“When I hear His Majesty’s songs being sung here, I feel as if he were singing the songs himself,” said audience member Chaem Dy, “and as if he is still alive.”