A timbrally-rich fusion of struck metal, wood, porcelain, and glass defines Vivian Fung’s (Un)Wandering Souls, a three-minute piece for percussion quartet written as a response to composer Him Sophy and film director Rithy Panh’s 2017 multimedia work, Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia.
Commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts and Metropolis Ensemble, (Un)Wandering Souls is one of a series of “variations” on Him Sophy and Rithy Panh’s Requiem, which offers a path to healing for survivors of genocide through a blend of Cambodian and Western music traditions. In Vivian Fung’s virtuosic treatment of the melody from the last scene, Sandbox Percussion’s tight grooves underscore, accompany, and punctuate the video edited by Rithy Panh.
Here’s what Vivian had to say about (Un)Wandering Souls:
My extended family (maternal grandmother, uncles, aunts, and cousins) lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in the 1970s as part of the overseas Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia. They were there quite happily, in fact, until the Khmer Rouge stormed the capit
al in April 1975 and drove everyone out. Those events changed the course of my family forever. I was born in Canada in 1975, but my birth and childhood were most definitely affected by these events. My extended family miraculously survived an arduous journey–over a month on foot in the countryside of Cambodia, traveling only in the dead of night, and then in Vietnam. Ultimately, they ended up in Paris and Canada.
I have been increasingly trying to piece together my family history, and I went to visit Cambodia for the first time in 2019 with my family. With some sleuthing, we were able to find my extended family’s former home and the hospital that my aunt ran, still standing all these years later but now abandoned. I look forward to returning and to continuing to understand more about their past.
Sandbox Percussion will release a new album and video of the world premiere of Andy Akiho’s Seven Pillars: an evening-length work for percussion quartet. The album, out June 2021, will mark the first release on Akiho and Sandbox’s new label, Aki Rhythm Productions.
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