Learning an instrument helped Arn Chorn-Pond survive the Khmer Rouge era. He has since dedicated his life to reviving traditional Cambodian music that was almost lost under the regime
It was a knife-edge decision that helped to save Arn Chorn-Pond’s life. Overworked, underfed and a witness to mass slaughter, he volunteered to play a musical instrument while living in a brutal Khmer Rouge camp in Battambang province in the 1970s.
“They said: ‘We’re going to start music, who’s interested in playing?’ Sometimes, they killed you if you raised a hand in a wrong situation,” says the 50-year-old musician, explaining how he was forced to work at a temple, used as a “killing place” by the regime, alongside 700 other children aged from about seven to 13.
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