Cambodian Day of Remembrance commemorates those who lost their lives in the genocide while celebrating the resilience of Cambodian people.
Celena Chin, Saroth Loeuk, and Pich Houy share stories from their remarkable journeys from their childhood in Cambodia, their surviving the Cambodian Genocide, and their taking refuge and building new lives abroad, while singing songs of strength and healing. This Cambodian Day of Remembrance, we honor these women, their stories, and their voices. Please join us for this livestream event!
On April 17th, 1975, the Khmer Rouge, a notorious communist regime, took over Cambodia. During the next four years, more than two million people died from torture, hard labor, untreated illnesses and injuries, and starvation. Now, every year on April 17th, the Cambodian Day of Remembrance commemorates those who lost their lives in the genocide while celebrating the resilience of Cambodian people, whose journey is ongoing.
The storytelling is facilitated by Ada Cheng, who creates spaces for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories.
In addition to the healing act of storytelling, Chin, Loeuk, and Houy will sing traditional Cambodian songs accompanied by the voice and roneat ak of Punisa Pov, Resident Artist of the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial, and the Crossing Borders Music string quartet, using world premiere arrangements by Rasa Mahmoudian. Cambodian traditional music and arts were targeted for destruction by the Khmer Rouge; only 10% of Cambodian artists survived. In response, Arn Chorn-Pond founded the organization Cambodia Living Arts to save, revive, and promote Cambodian traditional arts by gathering surviving artists to teach younger generations. It was through these efforts that Punisa Pov learned traditional Cambodian music. In this way, the Cambodian music of the program directly reflects Cambodian resilience.
This collaborative program will be the subject of a short documentary by filmmaker Thavary Krouch.
Cambodian Day of Remembrance: Stories and Music for Healing is part of a collaboration between the singer/storytellers, the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial, Cambodian Association of Illinois, Ada Cheng, Thavary Krouch, and Crossing Borders Music. It is supported in part by the Albert Pick, Jr Fund, Illinois Humanities, the Asian Giving Circle of the Chicago Community Trust, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Image description: A lit white candle flame with black background
Photo credit: NCCo
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