In 2012 OneBeat fellow Yorn Young (Cambodia 2013) traveled to Oddor Meanchey, an isolated area in northern Cambodia, with musician friends and a few American students. Along the way, the group stopped in villages to perform a series of spontaneous community concerts, which garnered an incredibly enthusiastic response. This suprised Yorn, as traditional culture had been all but eviscerated from the region during the era of the Khmer Rouge. Building on this experience, Yorn and his friends decided to create the Khmer Magic Music Bus, a project dedicated to bringing live music to people in different communities across Cambodia. In 2013, the group received funding to buy a 25-seat bus, which they decorated with bright, eye-catching blue and yellow paint.
In February of 2014, OneBeat Fellow Sarah Alden (USA 2013) hopped on the bus for a series of cross-cultural performances, bringing a bit of her Brooklyn+Balkan+Appalachian fiddle magic to the Cambodian countryside. Since the bus has been rolling, the magic has only grown, as Yorn has expanded their roster of artists who present rare forms of Cambodian music and art. From Yorn Young: “I am a co-founder and project manager of the Khmer Magic Bus, and we are so proud to do this project. We want people from different communities to experience happiness from music and arts, and build strong, good relations together. Moreover, we want people to know how important music is for their lives. Our aim is to restore Cambodia’s rich musical heritage, one village at a time.”