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Survivors of Cambodia's War, Now on NY Stages

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Almost 90 percent of artists were killed in Cambodia in the 1970s, when the extreme communist group Khmer Rouge was in power.  Arn Chorn-Pond was a child then, and he survived in a labor camp, ironically, by playing music. "The Khmer Rouge asked, 'someone want to play music for us,' so I raise my hand, I know probably they will give me more food," he said.

He escaped, was adopted by an American pastor, and after many years in the U.S., he now lives again in Cambodia.

Chorn-Pond is one of the artists performing in New York this month and next, as part of the Season of Cambodia festival. He said he believes music and the arts could re-connect the US and Cambodia in a different way. "This would make my brother's and my sister's life mean something," he said.

Chorn-Pond's life inspired the book Never Fall Down, and the documentary The Flute Player.

He spoke to WNYC about his life story while rehearsing in a studio in Chelsea.

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Comments [3]

M from NJ

I wish I could have seen this concert. This story and music really touched my heart. I disagree with Elizabeth above. Everyone suffered and this story is about how a few people that witnessed and survived this horrible ordeal ease their pain. I don't think for one second that these artists think their suffering as worse or more meaningful....they are just trying to cope. This story was beautiful, sorrowful, heart-wrenching, and hopeful all at once. Thank you so much.

Apr. 12 2013 10:15 AM
Mary Scully from Naugatuck, Ct

I am a nurse who worked in a Cambodian refugee camp in early 1980. We help ease the physical pain, but the artist helped people heal.

Apr. 11 2013 10:01 PM
Elizabeth from NJ

The self-cneteredness of artistes never fails to amuse me. I'll bet lots of more important people than artists were killed by the Khmer Rouge -- like doctors, nurses, journalists, teachers, lawyers, etc. Why anyone would want to pay good money to see this kind of vanity production in NYC beats me.

Apr. 11 2013 04:34 PM

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