This one of a series of blog posts featuring people who are making efforts to strengthen the vitality of their music. This one introduces Nou Samnang, born in 1993 in a village in Kandal province in Cambodia.
Leaving school and wanting to help support his family, at age 17 Samnang came to Phnom Penh to look for work. He began to learn Chapei Dang Weng (two-stringed long necked guitar) with Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) in early 2013. He continues to learn English.
I first met Samnang on my visit to Cambodia in 2014, but our paths had crossed in another way before then. Samnang and I were set to present together at the MusicLearningLive! Asia conference in 2013. The event was cancelled last minute, to be replaced by a smaller informal gathering of music educators, performers, scholars, and students. Samnang was still able to travel to Singapore – his first time outside of Cambodia – to share with the world his knowledge and skills about chapei and other forms of Cambodian traditional music.
Samnang is an active participant in youth arts education workshops back in his home country, and feels it is important for people his age to continue learning and promoting traditional Cambodian art forms. He is leading a new Chapei Dang Weng troupe in Phnom Penh (you can visit their FaceBook page), and through this troupe is exploring ways to make chapei a sustainable art form.
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