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What do you think of Khmer classical art?

Sor Usa, 21, a drummer at weddings
“I really admire our ancestors for creating these unique art forms. Ever since I was young, I really wanted to study classical art at Royal School of Fine Arts but because my family is poor, I cannot afford to study in Phnom Penh. I offered to be a drummer at weddings in order to support myself from day to day. But in future, when I have children, I will encourage them to study Khmer classical music so that we don’t lose this old art form.”

Rous Navy, 20, a second-year student of Royal University of Law and Economics
“Modern art is interesting and easy to get into. But our classical art is priceless. It is part of our identity. Our ancestors created it a long time ago in order to use in traditional ceremonies. We still need it today. I also study Khmer classical art because foreigners will look down on us if we take from their cultures but forget our own.”

Meng Sreylak, 18, a grade 12-student of Kroch Chhmar High School
“To me, Khmer classical art is very interesting because it was made in Cambodia, so it is closely related to Khmer society. Of all the Khmer classical arts, I like listening to traditional songs most because they are sweet and full of meaning. I also like magic shows, Ayai Prum Manh, and poems. I like listening to traditional songs in order to preserve Khmer culture as well as to develop the art for the modern day.”

Choeun Sokha, 18, grade 12-student of Toul Tom Pong High School
“To me, Khmer classical art is not only our national identity, but also carries an educational value. But that doesn’t mean I like all kinds of Khmer classical art. It depends on the type. Some now seem old and expired for me as a young person who likes new, exciting things. It also depends on how popular the classical art form is in society – I haven’t heard of some Khmer classical art because it is not widely known.”

Mour Sokny, 23, a graduate student in grade 12 of Pnhy Meas High School, Takeo Province
“I see Khmer classical art as a modest, soft, and polite art form – reflecting that Khmer is a polite and moral nation. I am fascinated when I watch and listen to Ayai, songs, poems, and so on. Although our society nowadays is heavily influenced by foreign countries, I wouldn’t give up my national art at all. But it is also a bit boring. ”



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