A Cambodian flutist was selected to play in a prestigious orchestra performance at the National Cathedral in Washington last week in front of an audience of several hundred.
Panh Panhlauv, 15, came from Phnom Penh to study in the United States in 2012 is now in Grade 10. A flute player for 10 years already, Panh Panhlauv told VOA Khmer that he practices three times a day — at school, in private classes at home, and at weekly classes in Washington.
“Music is really important for life because it teaches discipline and also helps your brain, because music makes us smarter and that’s a scientific fact,” he said.
Panh Panhlauv was chosen to play in this year’s High School Choir Festival for the first time as part of the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program. Parents, students and other audience members cheered and applauded after the performance.
The orchestra’s director, Mariano Vales, said that Panh Panhlauv’s playing was at the highest level for both the flute and the clarinet.
“We have seven orchestras and this is the top, which is the highest level in our own organization,” he said. “So for them is very important to play in this orchestra.”
The young virtuoso’s father, Panh Meng Heang, said a lot of practice had gone into his son’s musical abilities.
“He has his talent, that is the reason the director selected him to play in the National Cathedral today in Washington, D.C.,” he said, adding that his daughter was also a musician, and that another son is hoping to become a film actor. He was proud that his children had the chance to pursue such interests, since many Cambodians did not get the opportunity, said Panh Meng Heang.
In all, students from eight schools took part in the event, which was attended by about 800 people and was organization by the Cathedral Choral Society. The numbers performed included “Battle of Jericho,” “Hallelujah Chorus from Christ on the Mount of Olives,” “Sound of Silence,” and “Precious Lord.”
Kate Breytspraak, director of operations and community engagement at the society, said she would not be able to stage the festival without the enthusiasm and hard work of directors and students.
“It is thrilling to see these individual parts come together [and] strengthen our community through the joy of music,” she said.