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