Makara Ly: Star of the Future

Makara Ly - music student at Phare Ponleu Selpak poses with a wooden flute

By Emily Martin

Makara Ly

Makara Ly is a student at Phare Ponleu Selpak, the NGO school which trains the artists who perform in Siem Reap. He is a music student and part of the 5th generation, creating a brand new show.

How did you first come to study at Phare Ponleu Selpak?

When I was a young child my parents placed me at the kindergarten here at Phare. They were soldiers and they both passed away when I was at kindergarten. I had to move to another province for a while because an NGO took me in. When I grew up a little bit they transferred me back to Battambang and I could start back at Phare.

I came back just about 4 years ago and started to study music.

I come to study free of charge and once we have the knowledge of how to play, we can start performing in the shows. The performing arts programmes allow me to learn how to perform and then be part of the shows where I’m able to start earning money!

Who do you live with in Battambang?

I live with my Aunt now – well she lives out on a farm and I live with my cousins and siblings in Battambang town.

I have three siblings and I’m 21 years old.

My cousin is older than us all and at the moment he’s building a new house. Once that is finished we will all move to the new house.

Can you tell me a bit about your childhood in the NGO?

When I was a young kid my father and mother were soldiers. My parents sent me to pre-school here at Phare and then when they passed away I was picked up by NGO’S. I was too young to remember my age, I just remember I was in pre-school.

The NGO taught me a lot. They sent me to public school and I got to study English, computer studies and other things.

If there were no NGO’s my life would probably be the same as the street and garbage boys.

I was in a group orphanage. There were a lot of experiences in the orphanages – me and my friends used to sneak out of the Orphanage to do farming jobs around the place to get money.

The NGO supported me for food and water etc but I wanted money…

What do you like about playing music?

I like music because I feel the music, I don’t know why but when I do something else I never seem to be able to finish the job at hand, but with music I just seem to grasp the knowledge and get it finished.

Where do you see yourself going in the future?

I would like to continue working with Phare but I’d also like to create a new band. I want to create music that is new, but also traditional music.

I am thinking about the new music to create for the circus. I try to create a new rhythm, a new sound that matches with the circus performers. When you see a show you see how the music and circus performers go together.

I create the music for the circus and the teacher keeps his eye on me. If the teacher likes it he’ll say yes and so the teacher will allow me to use my own creation.

I really enjoy it!

If you had to be an animal? What would you be and why?

A Lion! Because it is much stronger than the other animals in the forest!

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