How Strings for Cambodia was Born

Strings for Cambodia grew out of a recent educational-exchange trip to Cambodia made Logo of Strings of Cambodiaby Johannah Segarich, Professor of Music at Middlesex Community College (MCC).

In the summer of 2010, Professor Segarich participated in a U.S. Department of Education grant funding a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad to Cambodia. She joined faculty from MCC and the Lowell Public Schools on a four-week trip to Cambodia to promote research and communication between American and Cambodian educators.

While in Cambodia, Professor Segarich met with faculty, administrators and students at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh. RUFA's Dean of Music, Yos Chandara, on behalf of the university and the Cambodian Ministry of Culture, expressed a desire to acquire high quality Western classical instruments – especially strings – for teaching music and to establish a National Symphony Orchestra.

Thus, with the help of the Middlesex Community College Foundation acting as our fiscal receiver, Strings for Cambodia was born.

Why Western instruments?

Cambodia continues to struggle to regain cultural status and world recognition, and to train a new generation of musicians. When the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) launches a National Symphony Orchestra at the end of 2011, it will be the first symphony orchestra to exist since before the Khmer Rouge Genocide.

By teaching both traditional Khmer music and Western classical music, RUFA is affirming Cambodia's rich musical contributions. Learning Western musical notation also will help preserve the ancient traditions of oral-based Khmer music and assist in developing a living art, since most Western-trained musicians were killed in the genocide.

With the founding the National Symphony Orchestra, all of Cambodia's arts will take another step up in the struggle toward full stature, following years of collective grief, neglect and still-unsteady government.

Last Modified: 9/18/19