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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Brit Embassy Chips In For Music Scholarships

Brit Embassy Chips In For Music Scholarships

PHNOM PENH (AP)-Britain's diplomatic mission here funded 10 scholarships Aug. 12

to encourage Cambodians to revive their traditional music, banned for years as a

bourgeois luxury under the communist Khmer Rouge.

Catherine Geach, a music teacher at the University of Fine Arts, convinced the mission

to provide U.S. $2,250 after noticing most students were more interested in Western

music than their own.

Of the 147 music students at the university, 130 are studying western music and only

17 are learning traditional Cambodian music, said the 20-year-old from Hitchin, England.

"A lot of Cambodians believe, unfortunately, that western culture is better

than their own," said the graduate of London's prestigious Royal Academy of

Music. "We discovered that, unless we did something, Cambodian music was going

to die out."

The head of the British Mission, David Burns, dipped into his small projects fund

so Ms. Geach could provide the 10 poorest students with U.S. $25 each per month,

equivalent to a civil servant's salary, to cover their living expenses during the

academic year that begins in October. There is no tuition at the school.

Many of the country's musicians were killed, along with hundreds of thousands of

other Cambodians, when the Marxist Khmer Rouge tried to restructure the country in

the mid-1970s.

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