MacArthur Fellows Program

Sam-Ang Sam

Musician and Cultural Preservationist | Class of 1994

Musician and Cultural Preservationist
Washington, District of Columbia
44 at time of award
Area of Focus
Culture and Society
Published July 1, 1994

About Sam-Ang's Work

Sam-Ang Sam is a musician, a scholar, and a community leader who works with the Khmer people in the United States and Cambodia to preserve and reinvigorate the Khmer performing arts.

Since the 1970s, when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia, most of the country’s artists and intellectuals have fled or been killed.  Sam has been instrumental in keeping the Khmer performing culture alive by locating, meeting, and performing with many of the best Khmer musicians and dancers on both sides of the Pacific.  Trained as an ethnomusicologist, he has written major technical studies of Khmer music and made many recordings.  He and his wife, the dancer Chan Moly, have become the nuclei for Khmer cultural activity in this country.


Sam is the former executive director of the Cambodian Network Council in Washington, D.C.  He holds a teaching position at the Pannasastra University of Cambodia and continues to perform.

Sam received a B.A. (1983) and an M.A. (1985) from Connecticut College, and a Ph.D. (1988) from Wesleyan University.  He also holds a Diplome ès Arts (1970) and Baccalauréat ès Arts (1973) from the University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and a B.A. (1977) from the University of the Philippines’ Conservatory of Music.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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