"Nirmita Composers Workshop"

Why do we initiate Nirmita Composer Workshop?

Between 1975-1979, nearly 2 million Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge regime, including 90% of the country's artists, who were among those deliberately persecuted.

During following decades, there have been great efforts to revive and rebuild the culture and arts, much of which was at risk of disappearing because of the loss of skill and knowledge, and Cambodia’s post conflict-context.

After many successful endeavors at home and abroad, today Cambodian arts and culture is growing increasingly dynamic by the day, and the underpinning sense of cultural memory and respect for preservation is strong. We now face the challenge of supporting composers and musicians, especially from traditional backgrounds, to create new, original work. This is vital if the traditions that have been preserved are to remain "living arts" and continue to resonate with youth of today, and future generations. 

This is why Chinary and his team, with support from CLA, are launching this first Nirmita Composers Workshop. The goal is to give composers the technical and creative skills, to make work that expresses something of themselves and their time. 

We want this to become an annual project, engaging artists from neighboring countries (Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam), and hope to support more than 50 new composers over 5 years, and inspire a generation of new creativity in music.

This will also help to support other Cambodians in the arts community, especially contemporary dancers who want new music to dance to, and other composers and musicians who the participants can collaborate with on new creations. 

Our solution:

This training program is called the Nirmita Composers Institute and the vision is that it will serve the priority need of this generation of musicians, to express something of themselves and their time. From the start, this project will be a regional endeavor, engaging partners from Laos and Myanmar in its first year. Over the next five years, the institute will engage new composers from throughout the Greater Mekong region.

The first Nirmita Composers workshop will take place in July 2016, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap is home to many rare and ancient forms of music, and provides a meaningful cultural space in which to develop original works from a new generation of Cambodian artists. It will involve 12 emerging composers and traditional musicians. The group will be supported by a world-class faculty of composers and performers from 8 countries around Asia and the USA, led by Chinary Ung.

Who we are:

Chinary Ung was the first American composer to win the highly coveted and international Grawemeyer Award (1989), sometimes called the Nobel Prize for music composition. He has also received awards from The Kennedy Center (the Friedheim Award), The American Academy of Arts and Letters, Asia Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Most recently, in 2014 he was awarded the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award by the Asian Cultural Council. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of San Diego and Chancellor Fellow and Senior Composer in Residence at Chapman University.

Cambodian Living Arts (CLA) is a leading culture agency in Cambodia, with a range of programs to support the growth and development of vibrant and dynamic arts sector. Founded in 1998 as a grassroots program to sustain the transmission of traditional performing arts following the losses of the Khmer Rouge regime, CLA is now an independent NGO with 501(c)3 status, supporting new generations of artists, students, and teachers in all fields of traditional and contemporary arts.

What we will do:

The two-week workshop will include a varied program of technical skills sessions (e.g. on notation), creative sessions, rehearsals and readings. There will be two public performances during the workshop, one by the faculty, and one by the students. The students will also record their pieces at the end of the session so their creations can be distributed and archived.

This pilot workshop will provide a platform for a new era of creativity in Cambodian music. Crucially, it will build on existing musical traditions, and use them as the basis for crafting the vocabulary and tools to generate new creations.

How you can help:

You can help us by donating and spreading words to your family, friends or community! 

Use of funds:

Most costs are already covered, but your generous donation will go to these areas:

-Facilities for the workshop and the concerts

-Community concerts and ceremonies at Wat Bo Pagoda

-Staff support for the artists

-Food and drinks for the artists


Thank you so much for your support!


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  • theepan selvaratnam 
    • $20 
    • 50 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 50 mos
  • Dara Hak 
    • $50 
    • 50 mos
  • Sothira McDowell  
    • $100 
    • 50 mos
  • Alex Carley 
    • $25 
    • 50 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Chansereypich Seng 
Glenn Rosenberg 
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