NOT many young people are skilled in, or even interested in, traditional Cambodian music such as Chapei Dang Veng, A Yai and Mohaori.
Ouch Savy, however, can perform all these styles with ease.
Ouch Savy’s parents, who were traditional musicians, sent her to study A Yai and Chapei Dang Veng at the Royal University of Fine Arts. She began her musical studies in 2002 and completed them in 2007.
Ouch Savy’s class was the first at the university to major in A Yai and Chapei. During that time, she also learned Mohaori and other types of traditional music.
Ouch Savy says she complained at first about having to study this major. “It was very difficult, but I eventually got used to playing it and began to like what I had learned.”
During 2003, Ouch Savy not only learned traditional music at the Royal University of Fine Arts but also studied at Cambodia Living Arts.
“Since my father died in 2004, I’ve had to try hard to find the money to support my family by performing at wedding ceremonies and playing traditional music as often as I possibly can,” the 24-year-old says.
“I had never dreamed that the musical skills I learned would give me the opportunity to go abroad.
“So far, I have performed in four countries: England, New Zealand, three times in Aust-ralia, and the US.”
In 2003, Ouch Savy won the A Yai section of a talent contest on the Apsara television channel.
She has also performed Chapei, A Yai and Mohaori music on several Cambodian channels and has recorded a CD of traditional Khmer music with Master Kong Nay.
These days, Ouch Savy is kept busy performing at wedding ceremonies and teaching a younger generation of aspiring singers at Cambodia Volunteers for Community Development (CVCD).
“At CVCD, I teach stud-ents Mohaori skills every Thursday. I want to educate young Cambodians about our traditional music and ensure its survival,” she says.
“From what I can see, not many young people are interested in learning the skills I have acquired.
I can’t really blame them, because it requires not only a lot of hard work, but also talent.
“But even though people may not want to learn to perform traditional Cambodian music, they should do some research into it.
“We are Cambodians, so we should know more about what relates to us and our culture.”
Performing Chapei or A Yai requires a lot of effort, as you have to play and think at the same time without having a prepared melody, as you do when singing a song.
In July next year, Ouch Savy plans to go to the US to work with the Elastic Arts Foundation. She will not only perform but also teach traditional Khmer music to young people there.