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Kampot Traditional Music School

Kampot Traditional Music School

Updated: 2017-05-26 14:28:50

The Kampot Traditional Music School is a Cambodian NGO and specialises in the preservation and development of traditional Cambodian performing arts in order to conserve Cambodia’s extraordinary cultural heritage after the destruction of the Khmer Rouge genocide, whilst taking care of the most vulnerable of children in Kampot Province. The school has four different programs, the care of orphaned children resident at our school, the care of blind children resident at our school,  free performing arts tuition to 400 local primary school children and the scholarship program for highly talented students with very difficult and impoverished family backgrounds

The Cambodian artists who form the core of the Kampot Traditional Music School come from the National Theatre, Royal Ballet and University of Fine Arts. Despite all the odds, they survived the Khmer Rouge genocide and with only a few others began re-building their music and dance. Traditional Cambodian music was not written down but passed down from teacher to pupil, whilst traditional Cambodian dance was taught given delegated roles. With great determination many of our older teachers purposefully remembered all that they had learned. For example our dance teacher who grew up in the Royal Palace as a child, carefully pieced together the different roles of classical dance, female role, male role (danced by females), monkey role, ogre role and so on. Our youngest teacher (Pin Peat master) was chosen by our former Pin Peat master as his rightful successor after having first studied at our school, then gone to university and then worked as a musician in the royal orchestra at the palace. He symbolises the vision of our school and the dream of passing traditional Cambodian arts to the next generation.


“The Sabaik Lakoun Toch (shadow puppet theatre) is an ancient Cambodian art form dating as far back as the Angkor period over a thousand years ago. This marvellous and highly entertaining theatre has little changed down the centuries. Puppets are created by drying specially treated cow hide and then carefully cutting out intricate puppet forms which are made to move using small bamboo sticks. Both ancient and modern stories are used, with both tragic and comic story lines. Traditional Pin Peat music is played, together with voice and singing to interpret the different characters. Shadows are created using a carefully lighted screen and a wonderful and eery atmosphere is created for the audience.

During the Khmer Rouge genocide, so many Cambodian artists were killed that the art of shadow puppetry was in danger of disappearing. Thanks to concerted efforts, there has been a revival of this art form. The Kampot Traditional Music School – Khmer Cultural Development Institute has created the first puppet troupe in Kampot since the war and is very happy to present it’s première “The story of Kray Thong Kroper Charavan.” We would like to take this occasion to profoundly thank Cambodian Living Arts for having sponsored our training in learning this art form.”

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