Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

MAY 25, 2017, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Cambodian-American Heritage Dancers with Chum NgekSam Oeun Tes (top) and Chum Ngek (bottom)
photo credit Tom Pick, courtesy of the
National Endowment for the Arts

Coolidge Auditorium

The Cambodian-American Heritage Dancers and Chum Ngek Ensemble present a program of classical Khmer dance and music from the Cambodian court repertoire.  This classical art is associated with the Angkor Empire (802-1432), a time when Cambodia was large and powerful. In traditional Cambodia, music and dance were always respected as offerings to gods, ancestors, and teachers. They could also connect the human world with the supernatural world.  Since the fifteenth century, Cambodia has shrunk in size and has become poor as a result of centuries of invasion, colonization, war, and political upheaval, but these art forms preserve the learning of a more peaceful and prosperous time.  Cambodian-American Heritage, Inc. (CAHI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Cambodian arts and culture here in the United States through its dance troupe and music ensemble. 

Principal musician Chum Ngek is one of the few living Khmer music masters worldwide who possess a vast repertoire and command of multiple instruments across various genres. He is a longtime teacher of Cambodian musical arts, and is the 2004 recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes Award, the NEA National Heritage Fellowship conferred upon an artist who has significantly benefited his or her tradition through teaching and preserving important repertoires. Chum has also received honors from The Maryland State Arts Council. He also teaches at the Cambodian Buddhist Society, Inc. in Silver Spring. 

Principal dancer Sam Oeun Tes was trained in classical court dance at the Royal Ballet of Cambodia from Cambodia’s top dance masters. She performed for many guests of state before migrating to the United States in 1971. Since the early 1980’s, Sam Oeun has been the principal teacher and dancer of the Cambodian American Heritage Dance Troupe. She has also performed and conducted dance workshops in many colleges and universities on the East Coast. She regularly leads her troupe in both local and national performances at venues such as the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the White House, and a host of other federal agencies and festivals. She has performed throughout the world in countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, and Taiwan. In 1998, Sam Oeun was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.