Alex & Ambrose
It all started when…
Alex and Ambrose Soehn met as piano students in four-hand piano class at USC Thornton School of Music. In addition to music, both were also pursuing degrees in academics (Alex in business, Ambrose in neuroscience) and working as interns at USC Shoah Foundation, Steven Spielberg’s nonprofit that archives over 55,000 video testimonies of genocide survivors.
Using music, film, and other media, Alex and Ambrose are committed to use their creative output to promote awareness of societal issues and invoke social change.
Cambodia’s Golden Age of Soul, Jazz, and Rock and Roll from 1959 to 1975 was one of the world’s profound musical renaissances. Yet it almost disappeared before we could hear it.
Though most of the musicians of that exceptional generation were killed at the hands of the murderous Khmer Rouge dictatorship, their music lives on because of the strength of the Cambodian people in the face of genocide.
Alex and Ambrose found this period so remarkable, they wanted to share the story of Cambodia's rich and resilient musical culture with the world.
They wrote a four-hand piano suite, Garuda’s Song, the movements of which represent the periods before, during, and after the Khmer Rouge. The suite ties together traditional Khmer melodies, standards from Cambodia's Golden Age, and classical pianistic elements.
They performed their composition live in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in January 2019 with Hong Samley and So Savoeun, legendary musicians from Cambodia’s Golden Age, and Sinn Sethakol, the grandson of Cambodia’s most famous musician — Sinn Sissamouth.
Their documentary film about the project — Garuda’s Song: Musical Memories from Cambodia — will premiere at Cambodia Town Film Festival in Long Beach on September 15, 2019. In conjunction with the screening, Alex and Ambrose will perform the U.S. premiere of the piano composition on which the film was based.
Garuda - a mythical bird in Cambodian lore - symbolizes rebirth in ancient and modern life. Like the garuda, music is an enduring emblem of virtue, hope, and revival for Cambodians.
Melodies of Auschwitz
Alex and Ambrose composed a four-hand piano piece based on music listened to, performed in, and composed in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In January 2015, they performed the composition, Melodies of Auschwitz, at the 70th-anniversary commemoration of Auschwitz’s liberation in Krakow, Poland in front of international dignitaries and 100 camp survivors, including Alex’s grandmother Celina Biniaz.
They continue to perform Melodies of Auschwitz to this day, hoping to further the conversation about the Holocaust, promote art as a tool for resistance, and raise awareness of contemporary genocide in the world today.