Banteay Chmar Fundraising Event – Tokyo String Quartet
The temple of Banteay Chmar is among the grandest of Cambodia’s monuments. Built by the great Buddhist king Jayavarman VII at the end of the twelfth century, it is located in Banteay Meanchey province in the northwest, far from the ancient capital at Angkor and until recently without good road access.
Since 2012 FOKCI has been committed to a very ambitious and vital project, a feasibility survey of the southwestern wall of the third enclosure. Here once rose eight magnificent reliefs depicting multi-armed Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Four of these were stolen some years ago; of these, two were recovered and are now on show in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Two more have collapsed and are partially buried, while two are still in situ, though unstable. These dramatic images are among the most iconic of all Cambodia’s great sculptures. The entire structure is compromised, and only a thorough and detailed survey, drawing on engineering, drafting, architectural and archaeological knowledge will suffice to ensure that the reconstruction will achieve the necessary standards. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts requested FOKCI’s help, and it is the most challenging target we have ever aspired to.
In the past, Friends of Khmer Culture has already funded the training of stone conservators to work on a collapsing section of the southeast wall of the third enclosure, a three-meter-high stone structure carved from top to base with dynamic reliefs depicting historical and mythological scenes. In addition FOKCI underwrote the restoration of the ceremonial eastern causeway flanked by gods and demons hauling a long serpent in a formation well known at the gates of the city of Angkor Thom and the approaches to Preah Khan temple.
To help us reach our goal of funding the Banteay Chmar Feasibility Study Project, Friends of Khmer Culture was greatly privileged to be offered a wonderful concert by the world-famous Tokyo String Quartet. The Quartet members performed pro bono for a FOKCI donor audience of about 28-30 people in October 2012.
Founded 43 years ago, the Tokyo String Quartet ranks among the world’s supreme chamber ensembles. Their instruments are the famed Stradivarius so-called Paganini Quartet, named for the virtuoso violinist who acquired them in the 19th century and now lent to the Quartet by the Nippon Music Foundation. The members of the Tokyo String Quartet are not only renowned for their distinguished performances and extensive repertoire of highly-praised recordings but for their mentoring of young musicians. They have conducted master classes in North America, Europe and the Far East and served as quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music since 1976.
To the great regret of their admirers, the “Tokes”, as they are affectionately known in their summer residence at the Chamber Music Festival in Norfolk, Connecticut, have decided the time has come to disband. This special benefit was one of their last performances.
Friends of Khmer Culture is profoundly grateful for the Quartets generosity.