Cambodian Living Arts Class – Traditional Music

Video

by Sam-Ang Sam
Khmer music is an important aspect of Cambodian life and culture. It is a significant component in religious and traditional ceremonies such as weddings or temple celebrations. Khmer civilization reached its peak during the Angkor period, from the ninth to fifteenth centuries when great monuments were built, with elaborate carvings depicting myths, gods and aspects of daily life. The carvings musical ensembles on bas-reliefs are nearly identical to the ensembles performing in Cambodia today, where virtually every village in Cambodia possesses a music ensemble. This continuity is testimonial to the strength of this ancient tradition.

Have you bought your ticket for JAMBODIA on 9/19 yet? First time DROP SWITCH will be headlining a show in Denver and the proceeds go toward the CAMBODIAN LIVING ARTS.

NCAS-I will be there! Come Dance with us.

Let us know and we will get a pre sale ticket to you ASAP! $7

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH
Cervantes Other Side – Denver, CO
Doors @ 8pm, Show @ 9pm – $7/$10 DOS
JAMBODIA: A Benefit for Cambodian Living Arts

NCAS-I SUPPORTS CAMBODIAN LIVING ARTS!

Blog written by Sue Wallingford

While in Cambodia we were fortunate to spend some time with Arn Chorn Pond, at his lovely community home right outside of Phnom Penh.  Arn shared his music and some stories of being a survivor during the Khmer Rouge, and we even got to see a live filming for MYTV (Cambodian’s version of MTV!) while we were there.  Arn is founder of the Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) and his mission is to bring back the traditional arts to Cambodia that was mostly extinguished during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, when most of Cambodian’s artists and professionals were exterminated.  To restore the rich culture of his people is one way he has found to heal the pain he and his people experienced during these horrendous years.  He lives his life to restore what was so brutally taken away.  He inspired us all.

In the next few weeks we will be sharing some more stories about Arn and the work of Cambodian Living Arts, including some videos of our time with him, and at the CLA center listening to the sounds of traditional Cambodia.  On September 19, at Cervantes Other Side in Denver, NCAS-I will be joining DROP SWITCH, for “JAMBODIA,”  a benefit concert to raise money and awareness toward Arn’s mission.  Lead female vocalist Emma Wallingford (who is also my daughter  😉 was with us in Cambodia, and was so inspired by Arn’s stories and his passion to revive the traditional music she wanted to do something about it.

Emma writes:

“30 years ago, the country of Cambodia was victim to a terrible genocide called the Khmer Rouge. When Pol Pot came to rule, he wanted to wipe out all of Cambodia’s culture and start from “Year Zero”, and establish a communist country. He did this by killing off 2 million Cambodians; all musicians, dancers, artists, educators, or people of higher class. Arn Chorn Pond, who survived through the Khmer Rouge through his talent for playing flute (he played propaganda music that played over loud speakers to muffle the noise of them killing off his people), is founder of Cambodian Living Arts. It gives kids of Cambodia the chance to rebirth culture of music, arts and dance into their country. Even 30 years later, the whole country is still suffering from the loss of their culture. A career in arts there is very much thriving and rebirthing Cambodian’s culture. Through the good vibes and night of music, we can support Cambodian Living Arts and raise awareness about this issue to help the amazing souls that populate this desolate country. Donation boxes, flyers about the school, and pictures and videos will be provided at the show!

Art Therapy comes in all kinds of packages…..  this is just another one!

Please join us for this concert on September 19th to spread the LOVE and the HOPE for the restoration of the Cambodian Arts.

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WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH
Cervantes Other Side – Denver, CO
Doors @ 8pm, Show @ 9pm – $7/$10 DOS
JAMBODIA: A Benefit for Cambodian Living Arts
Featuring…

DROP SWITCH
Shoot to Please
Rhyme Progression
Matty Mac

FAQ – Patricia McCormick, Author of ‘Never Fall Down’

And a New York Times Sunday Book Review

FAQ interview with Patricia McCormick, author of Never Fall Down.

Read about what inspired Patricia McCormick to write about Arn Chorn-Pond’s story retold as a novel for young adults, the intensely emotional experience of learning about the Khmer Rouge, the responsibility McCormick felt in telling Chorn-Pond’s story, the optimism achieved in the end, and much more.  Click here to read the complete interview.  For more information on the book, you can read our original post about ‘Never Fall Down’ at this link.

The New York Times also included ‘Never Fall Down’ in its Sunday Book Review on May 11.  Read the review here.

(Image from http://www.amazon.com/Never-Fall-Down-Patricia-McCormick/dp/0061730939)

A Look at Contemporary Artists in Cambodia

In hopes of offering sustainable art practices for participants and staff at Transitions, as well as for those working in the community, one of our intentions for the upcoming trip to Cambodia is to research contemporary arts and culture.  For now, we’re doing our research from home, searching the internet for inspiration…

An excerpt from a 2009 CNN article Cambodian art: Past to present describes the artistic community in Cambodia:

Cambodia, which lost an estimated one-quarter of its population or at least 1.7 million people — including an estimated 90 percent of its artists — under the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime, has a small but growing artistic community: there are some 50 practicing artists out of its 14 million people, according to Phnom Penh-based curator Erin Gleeson.

Here’s a look at the artwork of a few of Cambodia’s contemporary artists:

Sopheap Pich
"Cycle 2, Version 3," 2008, Rattan and Wire, from http://trfineart.com

Leang Seckon
"Cambodian Faces," 2010, Mixed Media on Canvas, from http://www.rossirossi.com

Chan Dany
"Kbach Phni Vois," Pencil Shavings on Wood, from http://www.10chancerylanegallery.com

Duong Saree
"Untitled," 2005, Oil on Canvas, from http://saklapel.org

A more recent article, Cambodia’s art revolution reaches global market, includes even more artists!

Inspired: Arn Chorn Pond’s story in ‘Never Fall Down’

We will be spending an evening with Arn Chorn Pond in Phnom Penh and hear his story in person!  Check out the article below on Patricia McCormick’s new novel detailing his story of brutality and survival in Cambodia.

An Article By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012

When it comes to genocide, Hitler is obviously well covered. There are countless titles for young readers about the atrocities he inspired. The Khmer Rouge, which seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and, in its attempts to create an agrarian form of communism, killed millions of its own people, is less familiar territory, especially for young readers.

“Never Fall Down” offers a detailed look at what it was like to live under such a cruel government from the perspective of one of its best-known survivors, Arn Chorn Pond.

Pond was 11 when his village was invaded by the Khmer Rouge and his family was forced to march toward an uncertain future. Pond thought it was exciting at first, but after walking for days, passing babies left crying in the middle of the road and ditches filling with dead bodies, he began to realize: He wouldn’t be returning home in three days as his captors had said.

“Never Fall Down” is written in broken English from Pond’s present-tense point of view, which adds to the story’s authenticity and immediacy. But it is in the end a novel.

Patricia McCormick spent hundreds of hours interviewing Pond. She traveled to Cambodia with the now-45-year-old to retrace his every step during the three years, eight months and 20 days that the Khmer Rouge held power. She retraced his escape through a Thai refugee camp and interviewed members of his adoptive American family.

Though “Arn can recall certain experiences in chilling detail; others he can tell only in vague generalities,” McCormick writes in an author’s note at the end of the book, explaining her decision to write Pond’s true story as fiction. “He can describe the eerie click of a land mine being sprung and the hideous stink of a gangrenous leg … but no one, especially not an eleven-year-old caught in the insanity of genocide, can remember conversations, dates, and places — especially when the perpetrators worked so hard to distort reality at every turn.”

“Never Fall Down” is similar to Dave Eggers‘ fictionalized memoir of Sudanese child soldier Valentino Achak Deng in “What Is the What,” but it differs from McCormick’s 2008 National Book Award finalist, “Sold.” For that book she interviewed several Nepalese and Indian sex slave survivors, fusing their stories into a single, fictionalized character. “Never Fall Down” is a blend of Pond’s memories and McCormick’s research and imagination. “The truth,” McCormick writes, “is right there between the lines.”

And it is horrifying. It’s difficult to believe anyone was able to survive the atrocities Pond endured, which began with forced labor in the rice fields that often started at 4 in the morning and lasted until the dark of night, with only a bowl of thin rice soup thickened with dirt as nourishment. Eventually, as the Khmer Rouge took away professors, businessmen and anyone else with any connection to capitalism, Pond learned they were being executed and pushed into mass graves. He volunteered to learn an instrument that he played with part of a ragtag music group to cover the sound of the killings — a move that likely saved his life.

These scenes are described in horrifyingly vivid detail, but just when readers think the level of human depravity couldn’t possibly worsen, it does. Some forced laborers, whose bellies had become distended through famine, resorted to cannibalism, for which they were killed. Pond was forced to bury the bodies in an ever-growing pile. Then, when the Vietnamese invaded and Pond was forced to become a soldier for the Khmer Rouge, he too became a killer.

Separated from his family and his friends, Pond made his way to a refugee camp, where he suspected he may have survived only to die of a broken heart.

“All the time you are fighting, you think only of how to survive. All the time you survive, you wonder why you don’t die,” said Pond, who, after moving to the U.S. and enduring the usual traumas of assimilation, decided upon a third choice: to live.

It’s a marvel not only that Pond escaped but is sane enough to recount his story. Since 1984, he has been a human rights activist and champion of Cambodia’s traditional music.

Pond’s early life is an incredible story of survival against all odds, of innocence unduly robbed. By turns terrifying, heartbreaking and triumphant, “Never Fall Down” is as likely to inspire tears as it is to stick with readers for a lifetime.

To purchase  the novel “Never Fall Down,” go to http://www.amazon.com/Never-Fall-Down-A-Novel/dp/0061730939

(Article from http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-patricia-mccormick-20120429,0,2388171.story)

(Image from http://harperteen.com/books/Never-Fall-Down-Patricia-Mccormick/?isbn=9780061730931)