Two Opera Scenes: Grover and Friends/Alarm


Vivian Fung

Royce Vavrek

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Performance forces:
soprano — perc



Grover and Friends and Alarm are two scenes based on family oral history I gathered during the spring of 2021. My extended family–including my 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 shortly before the Khmer Rouge stormed the capital in April 1975 and drove everyone out. My family miraculously survived an arduous journey – over a month on foot in the countryside of Cambodia, and then in Vietnam. Ultimately, they ended up in Paris and Canada, but those events changed the course of my family forever. I also was born in 1975, and even though I was born and raised in Canada, my birth and childhood were deeply affected by omnipresent anxiety and uncertainty over my family’s situation and safety. Only recently have I been able to piece together more completely my family history and how it affected my family members' subsequent lives. I went to visit Cambodia for the first time in 2019 with my family–parents, son, and husband–and with some detective work, we were able to find my 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. Many thanks to Royce Vavrek for his wonderful text and his intuitive grasp of what my family went through. Required percussion: porcelain bowls, metal chimes, glass bowls, small tam-tam, wooden planks, brake drum, tenor drum, kick drum