For piano trio and Cambodian trio
the river flows on… was commissioned for the O Cambodia project with funding from Creative New Zealand. The first performance was given on 17 March 2011 by NZTrio and Tray So Ensemble at the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival in the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber.
About the work
There is a Cambodian proverb — ‘the rowing boat passes, the river bank remains’ — which to me suggests that isolated events in history, or in a person’s life, eventually pass, while history, or life itself, flows on.
Within the O Cambodia project, I wanted to present a narrative which moves on from the Khmer Rouge times into the future, moving from the hard times that affected every Cambodian who is now over 35, into a profoundly altered world. As much curated as composed, the river flows on … includes several songs and dances in their traditional form.
The first section of the river flows on… is ‘Prophecy’, which presents an ancient saying whose source is not remembered today. The second section, ‘Sokha’s Story’, tells the story of Sokha Mey, who currently lives and works in Wellington. She was a young girl living with her family in a small village near Siem Reap when Lon Nol’s forces were defeated and the Khmer Rogue came to power. The final section, ‘the river flows on…’ places Sokha’s story into the future, where she was able to make a new life for herself in New Zealand.
I am forever grateful to the Niborom Young, Sokun Chiv and particularly Sokha Mey for their invaluable help.
About the project
The O Cambodia project, devised and driven by Jack Body, involved 2 Cambodian and 2 New Zealand composers — Chinary Ung, Him Sophy, Jack Body and me — collaborating to create 4 works to be performed by NZTrio and the Tray So Ensemble — Him Savy, spoken and sung voice, and drums; Him Sophy, tro and spoken voice; and Keo Dorivan, wind instruments.
The river flows on … is scored for violin, cello, piano, chhing bowl, narrator, soprano, khloy, drums, paipork and sneng.
Score and recordings
Contact me if you are interested in seeing the score.
Buy the CD from all good CD stores.
Listen to an RNZ recording from 2011.