For many of us, the only time we listen to classical music is when we’re on hold or maybe trying to study for something. I think that’s partially because we tend to think of classical music in the past tense, of composers who are long-since dead.
But there are some artists who would tell you that classical is very much alive – and it can take forms that even fans of more mainstream music can enjoy. Kmang Kmang (Barmey Ung) and Open Source String Quartet are two such groups.
For the Open Source String Quartet, part of their mission is taking classical music out of the concert hall and into a crowded bar. These young musicians have banded together to take the classical tradition to more modern places. Cellist Nora Barton said the one reason they love playing classical music is it’s unique power to stop people in their tracks.
On the other hand, Barmey Ung places the classical guitar into the center of his own pop-infused indie music as Kmang Kmang. Plucked with the fingers, the nylon strings of a classical guitar have a whole different texture, like that of what you hear in flamenco or other folk music. Ung said that while he writes pop-oriented songs, the classical guitar still evokes this world of influences. He even performed his take on a traditional Cambodian welcome song as part of his set.
Clearly, these artists are taking classical music in totally new directions. And their reach extended to some of the most vaunted of artists, the Beatles, with a unique composition originally adapted by Open Source’s Sam Sharp, and then modified by Ung’s own unique perspective.
Check out the episode above once it’s available, or the whole performance in the player below.