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Elastic Cambodia is a grassroots alliance of artists, educators and other professionals who share a deep appreciation for, and commitment to, Cambodian arts and culture. We are motivated by the crucial need to preserve undocumented Cambodian music, and to develop future generations of Khmer musicians and artists. Although Cambodia’s recent history is heartbreaking, we optimistically believe that its astonishing young artists can lead the inspired artistic renaissance that Cambodia needs and deserves. To this end, we create opportunities for Cambodian youth to learn, teach, and celebrate their ancient artistic traditions. We also work to increase international awareness and support for traditional and contemporary Cambodian artistic expression.
Elastic Cambodia is the international arts preservation program of the Elastic Arts Foundation of Chicago. We work with organizations and individuals from Cambodia, the United States, and several other countries around the world. We embrace collaboration and invite fellow artists, educators, students, ethnomusicologists and other professionals to join us in preserving and promoting Cambodia’s endangered music and arts.
DAN SCHWARZLOSE, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR
Dan Schwarzlose is an interdisciplinary artist and educator working in Phnom Penh and Chicago. A native of Evanston, IL, he studied English and classical trumpet performance at Northwestern University, and earned an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media from Columbia College. In between his bachelor and masters degrees, Dan taught English, music and history, and served in Chicago’s public interest law community. He has also worked extensively with world-renowned chef, Homaro Cantu, at Moto Restaurant. A co-founder and director of the Elastic Arts Foundation since 1998, Dan was moved to help preserve Cambodia’s endangered traditional music when he learned that almost all of Cambodia’s artists were murdered during the Khmer Rouge genocide; today, only a handful of masters are still alive. He is driven by the crucial need to prepare younger generations to carry on Cambodia’s ancient artistic heritage. Dan created Elastic Cambodia and is proud to direct Elastic’s first international programs.
ARN CHORN-POND, HONORARY LIFE DIRECTOR
Arn Chorn-Pond is a renowned human rights activist who has dedicated his life to preserving traditional Cambodian music and art. During the Khmer Rouge genocide (1975-1979), his musical talent saved his life, yet subjected him to unspeakable horrors as a child soldier forced to fight against his will. An inspiration to all who know him, Arn is a recipient of an Amnesty International Human Rights Award, Anne Frank Memorial Award, and an honorary doctorate in Humanitarian Service from Providence College (RI). Arn is the founder of Cambodian Living Arts, Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development, and Waterek Productions. As a musician and producer, he supports dozens of Cambodian musicians and unites traditional Khmer music with modern instrumentation and technology. Arn is the subject of the award-winning documentary film, “The Flute Player,” and a forthcoming print biography of his extraordinary life. The Cambodian Peer Teaching Program is dedicated to Arn Chorn-Pond in recognition of his heroic work and service on behalf of Cambodia’s artists and traditional art forms.
DAVID YOUNG, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
David Young is a musician, composer and educator working in Chicago. An accomplished trumpet player and a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Music, David has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Danilo Perez, and Lauryn Hill, among other musical luminaries. An active recording artist and charismatic band leader, he currently leads the eight-piece ensemble, Entourage. He has also taught extensively in the Chicago Public Schools and renowned Ravinia music program. Upon first visiting Cambodia in 2008, David was inspired to transcribe undocumented songs, and to teach master musicians and their students how to read and write music, since Cambodian music has historically been taught orally and countless traditional songs were tragically lost during the genocide. David and Dan continue to collaborate on music preservation projects, public performances and gallery exhibitions in order to promote traditional Khmer arts.
JULIEN POULSON, CAMBODIAN SPACE PROJECT
Julien Poulson is a musician and recording artist working in Phnom Penh. A prolific songwriter and performer, he hails from Hobart Tasmania. As the founding member of The Cambodian Space Project, Julien has recorded and performed with numerous Cambodian musicians, including Ouch Savy and Master Kong Nai. Evoking the golden age of Cambodian rock and roll (later 1960s-1975), the Cambodian Space Project has extensively toured Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, and in Spring 2011…the United States. Julien generates worldwide interest in Cambodian music—both rock and traditional—and is deeply committed to promoting Cambodian artists and art forms. In 2010, the Cambodian Space Project released the first vinyl single in Cambodia since 1975—when the Khmer Rouge attempted to destroy all traditional art and culture—as a tribute to the incredible Cambodian musicians from the 1960s and 70s vinyl era. In 2011, the Cambodian Space Project will release a full-length album and tour throughout the world.
RICHARD CARTER, MUSIC COMPOSITION TEACHER
Richard Carter is a musician and composer in the Chicagoland area. Richard earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition from DePaul University, where he studied with Sheldon Atovsky, Janice Misurell-Mitchell and Kurt Westerberg. In addition, he studied with Academy Award winning composer, John Corigliano, during which time the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered one of Richard’s compositions, Adagio for Children, as part of a program showcasing young composers from Illinois. As an integral component of Pov Punisa’s 2011 Elastic Cambodia Artist in Residence, Richard generously donated private composition lessons to help her achieve her dream of becoming a composer.
Chamroeun Sopheak teaches traditional and folk dance in the Cambodian Peer Teaching Program. Sopheak was born in Kandal Province and lives in Phnom Penh. Since 2002, she has studied folk dance, classical dance and singing, and now studies at the Secondary School of Cambodia’s Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA). As a student of Master Ieng Sithul, she has performed across Cambodia, and abroad in England, Scotland and the United States. Sopheak’s father is a circus performer, and her family supports her dream of becoming a professional dancer and singer. Sopheak enjoys teaching: “I like my students because they all want to learn so much. Before, they didn’t have the chance to study music and dance.”
Hou Cheychanrith (“Pov”) teaches traditional and folk dance in the Cambodian Peer Teaching Program. Pov was born in Kandal Province, and lives in Phnom Penh. Since 2007, he has studied folk dance, classical dance and singing with Master Ieng Sithul. He has performed in 14 of Cambodia’s 23 provinces, and internationally in England and Scotland. A gifted singer and dancer, Pov has studied Mahaori and classical wedding singing, as well as Cambodian folk and ancient classical dance. Humble and reverent, Pov teaches in honor of his aging mentors: “I am not there as their teacher. I am there on behalf of the old masters to share the experiences and knowledge that I learned from them.”
Ouch Savy teaches traditional Mahaori singing in the Cambodian Peer Teaching Program. Savy is a virtuoso singer and instrumentalist, and has performed, recorded and toured with legendary Master Kong Nai. An international ambassador of Cambodian music, Savy has toured Australia, New Zealand, England and America, including a breakthrough performance with Peter Gabriel in 2007. Savy sings several forms of traditional Cambodian music, and plays the chapei dang veng, an ancient, two-string Cambodian guitar with a soulful, blues-like sound. One of only three female chapei players in Cambodia, she is in constant demand for performances and recording sessions. Savy has released two acclaimed albums—Mekong Delta Blues with Master Kong Nai and Sarikakeo with Master Ieng Sithul — and recently recorded a third, solo album in Chicago as a 2010 Elastic Cambodia Artist in Residence.
OUM ROTANAK OUDOM & MAYA JADE, CO-DIRECTORS, CAMBODIAN VINTAGE MUSIC ARCHIVE
Oum Rotanak Oudom (“Oro”) and Maya Jade share a passion for preserving the music of Cambodia’s golden era. Cambodian pop musician of the 1960’s and 1970’s flourished in a dazzling array of styles and international influences, but met a sudden, brutal end during the Pol Pot Regime. Along with the tragic loss of artists and musicians came the destruction of most of the original master recordings. However, many vinyl records still exist today thanks to a few Cambodian collectors who risked their lives concealing them. Maya, an audio engineer from the United States, came to Cambodia specifically in search of these rare albums to digitally archive them before they decompose. This search led her to Oro, a native of Phnom Penh and preeminent collector of Cambodian vintage music who needed the equipment and technical expertise to preserve the music of his heritage. They have combined to build an archive of high fidelity digital transfers of vintage vinyl and tape recordings, scanned album art, and information from the few surviving musicians. Oro is currently a graduate scholarship recipient at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. Maya is pursuing her MLIS (Master of Arts in Library and Information Science) degree at the University of South Florida.
Pheun Sreypov teaches traditional Smot singing in the Cambodian Peer Teaching Program. Sreypov was born in Kompong Speu Province, where she studied Smot music with Masters Prum Uth (d. 2009) and Keot Ran. An outstanding vocalist and poetry student, Sreypov earned a scholarship to study Smot and English literature at Panassastra University in Phnom Penh. Sreypov has performed extensively in the United States, particularly in the Cambodian-American communities of Chicago, Long Beach, Lowell, Minneapolis and Denver. In September 2010, she spoke and performed at Stanford University.
ETHAN PLAUT, CONSULTANT
Ethan Plaut is an artist, journalist and doctoral candidate at Stanford University’s Department of Communication. His journalistic work has appeared in various publications including The Cambodia Daily and The Boston Globe. He holds a masters degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and worked as a reporter and editor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for three years. Ethan’s artistic work has been displayed, performed or published in various media in the United States and abroad. Currently at Stanford, Ethan is working with Dr. Fred Turner on issues at the intersection of aesthetics and politics, such as propaganda and the relationship between information and power, as well as questions around balancing transparency, privacy and silence.
Pov Punisa (“Nisa”) teaches music notation and accompanies the Cambodian Peer Teaching Program dance and singing classes on Roneat Aek. Nisa is Cambodia’s most prodigious young student of the Roneat Aek and traditional Pin Peat music. A voracious learner and an active cultural ambassador, she also composes and performs new music with numerous foreign musicians, and has contributed to several video and audio recording projects. In fall 2011, Nisa commenced her undergraduate studies in the United States as a recipient of a full scholarship at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In July 2011, Nisa and Dan Schwarzlose also co-taught Piasaa Pleng (The Language of Music), a music notation and traditional Khmer music class to Cambodian-Americans in Chicago. “I want to be a composer and art businesswoman. I want to share Cambodian arts with people all over the world.”