Despite her youth, 29-year-old Neang Kunh Thia of Tri Ton district has already made significant contribution to Khmer culture. Born into an artistic family, Kunh Thia showed an aptitude for art at an early age. At 14, she could perform Di ke, a Khmer style of musical theatre.
Realizing Kunh Thia’s talent, her parents tried to pass their own experience to their daughter. Mr. Chau Men Sa Ray is Kun Thia’s father: “I am so happy my daughter showed a keen interest in traditional art and culture. I taught her how to act, sing, and dance in the Di ke form. I am pleased my daughter can contribute to this traditional art”.
Neang Kunth Thia has also learned other art forms, such as folk songs. She performs Cham Rieng Cha Pay, which was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2013. Kunth Thia has won prizes in many competitions, including a first prize at the first Khmer Di Ke festival, where she performed “The love story of Tum Tieu”, a first prize at the Khmer Culture, Sports and Tourism Festival in An Giang this year. Neang Kunh Thia said: “Born into a family of music, the art has become part of my soul. I could sing, dance, and perform Di ke from early age. I want to learn more about music and traditional musical instruments”.
Mr. Chau Soc Phai, an expert in culture and art in O Lam commune, talked to us about Neang Kunh Thia: “Kunh Thia is really interested in preserving and promoting Cham Rieng Cha Pay. She’s very talented. She can play several musical instruments and write music”.
Kunh Thia has choreographed and produced a number of music and art programs. Cao Tan Thao is Deputy Head of Tri Ton district’s Culture Center: “Kunh Thia has participated in many music festivals at the local and national level. Already an accomplished performer, she is also growing as a choreographer”.