For a week in January, young musicians from around the world will convene in Siem Reap to share their musical and cultural heritage as part of a global music workshop.

Facilitated by Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), the first-ever Ethno Cambodia music workshop will be held between January 7-14 in Siem Reap town.

Ethno is a global traditional and folk music workshop first created by Belgian youth music NGO Jeunesses Musicales International in 1990. It’s aimed at young musicians and strives to revive and keep alive global cultural heritage among young people.

Ethno engages young people through series of annual international summer music camps and workshops. Since its foundation, camps have spread to over 20 countries, and have been held in countries as disparate as Uganda, Australia, Sweden and Algeria.

Now, for the first time, it will come to Cambodia.

Ethno Cambodia will see some 30 young musicians sharing their musical and cultural heritage, and will focus especially on bringing together musicians from the Mekong region, where many young artists lack opportunities for cultural exchange and mobility.

Exchanging skills, music, and experiences is crucial for young artists, but due to funding constraints and language barriers, among other factors, artists in Cambodia and the Mekong region often lack opportunities to do so.

Despite this, there are many young musicians passionate about preserving, continuing and transmitting their sometimes endangered traditional cultural musical forms.

CLA Communications & Outreach Coordinator Keat Sokim said: “For many young musicians, Ethno workshops are stepping stones, elevating their musical and personal aspirations, building long-lasting friendships, and setting in motion future cross-cultural artistic projects and collaborations.

Keat Sokim of Cambodian Living Art, (centre), join Ethno Germany 2017. Photo supplied

“We hope that Ethno Cambodia will help to build a strong community of musicians in Cambodia, the Mekong Region and beyond, which respects diversity of cultures, celebrates and preserves intangible cultural heritage, and passes on these values in their own communities.”

As part of Ethno Cambodia’s ethos, every participant is a student and a teacher at the same time. Through a combination of workshops, jam sessions and performances, participants will be introduced to a variety of musical styles, allowing them to produce new songs of their own in collaboration with others.

Sokim took part in Ethno Germany in 2017 and will be one of the artistic leaders of the upcoming Ethno Cambodia.

“In Germany last year, it was great to meet other artists from around the world. We played the music and songs that each of us brought from our home country. We communicated and learned from each other, understanding more about each other’s countries and cultures."

“Here in Cambodia and in the Mekong region, we have a huge variety of cultures and arts – some similar, some very different from each other. I hope that Ethno Cambodia will be a platform where local, regional, and global artists can come together. And learn more about each other,” he said.

The workshop will be held at CLA’s Heritage Hub in Siem Reap town from January 7-14, and is for any musicians aged between 18-30 interested in folk and traditional music.

The workshop costs $300 for participants from outside the Mekong region and $150 for musicians from the Mekong region. You can visit the Cambodian Living Arts webpage for more information.