This cello concert, as the name implies, is a unique show presented by Dr Beat Richner – a Swiss national who is fondly referred to as 'Beatocello' by Cambodians.

Dr Beat Richner conducts solo cello performances at the Jayavarman VII Hospital in Siem Reap. They are more than just a source of entertainment, primarily focused to raise funds as well as awareness of child health care in the country.

photo by Mike (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

Who is Dr Beat Richner?

Born in 1947 in Zurich, Dr Beat Richner received his medical degree in 1973 and worked as a pediatric specialist at the Zurich Children’s Hospital. He came to Cambodia in 1975 following a request from the Red Cross to work at the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital.

Though he was forced to return to Switzerland because of the Khmer Rouge invasion, he came back to Cambodia in 1991 and founded the Kantha Bopha Foundation in 1992. Started with 68 local staff and 16 foreign staff, the foundation currently employs more than 2,000 Cambodian staff and has only one expatriate staff member other than the doctor.

The foundation now operates 5 hospitals that render free medications and healthcare services to children in the country. They include the Jayavarman VII Hospital in Siem Reap.

Donations received, along with funding from the Cambodian government, Swiss government and large private Swiss donors, are solely utilized to run these hospitals that admit more than 200 children on daily basis, in addition to performing 50 surgical procedures and providing about 2,000 vaccinations. On recognizing his services for poor children, Dr Beat Richner was awarded the title of ‘Swiss of the Year’ in 2003.

photo by Mike (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

Dr Beat Richner's Cello Concert

Every Thursday, the conference hall of Jayavarman VII Hospital becomes the venue for Dr Beat Richner to perform Bach on his cello. An accomplished entertainer who used to act as a singing clown in Switzerland, Beatocello however now performs as a cellist primarily to collect money for the activities of his Kantha Bopha hospitals that also include a maternity ward for HIV mothers. The performance is followed by a video, which throws light on social prejudices in the country.

As part of the concert, he also speaks about his work in these hospitals and encourages audiences to generously contribute towards the mission of combating child health crisis in the country. In addition to money, the doctor also requests young audience members to donate blood in order to maintain the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s blood bank that observes the WHO guidelines.

Located outside the city centre in Siem Reap, Jayavarman VII Hospital is easily accessible from the road to Angkor Wat. Entry is free though donations are encouraged.

Cello Concert by Dr Beat Richner

Location: Jayavarman VII Hospital, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Open: Thursdays from 7.15pm to 8.30pm

Phone: +855 15 487 222

Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller