Light from Heaven
This album contains eleven tracks of classical Cambodian Mahaori music dating from the Angkor Period - some recorded for the first time. Track 11 Khaet Bombay was nominated BEST INSTRUMENTAL SONG 2002 by JUST PLAIN FOLKS. Mahaori music is characterized by a floating quality that brings a sense of energizing peace to the listener. One can feel the complexity of the tropical jungle in the intertwining instrumental lines. It has the perfect balance of emotional intensity and equanimity. This genre of music was almost completely wiped out during Pol Pot's purge of Cambodian classical musicians and dancers. Fortunately, the music has been passed down aurally for centuries and has survived in people's memories, ready to blossom again. An unexpected benefit of the Cambodian diaspora is this collaboration between Cambodian masters and western classically-trained musicians. The group Rak-Smey Khemera (Light From Heaven Falls On the People of Cambodia) has been performing and touring all over the United States since 1986, bringing traditional Cambodian music to Cambodian and western audiences alike. The founder and artistic director, Bun Loeung, is known throughout the world as a legendary luminary of all genres of Cambodian music. He has played in every conceivable venue - from the streets of Battambang, opium dens, directing the National Theatre, to performing with the Minnesota Orchestra. His recording 'Cambodian Music in Minnesota' was selected by the Library of Congress as one of the best recordings of American Folk life. His 1987 recording, 'The New International Trio' (Atomic Theory Records) with Dick Hensold and Barb Weiss won a Minnesota Music Award. Rak-smey Khemera is a unique multi-cultural group featuring classical musicians from both eastern and western traditions. Group members include Dick Hensold, the world-renown expert on Northumbrian Smallpipes (a form of bagpipe) and recorder; Jane Lanctot on gong-circle and the tro-u, which is a two-string viola with a coconut body; and Thoeun Moen, originally from Gondal Province, on traditional drums. Bun Loeung leads the group on tro-sau, the two-string violin similar to the Chinese ehr-hu as well as the roneat (xylophone).