Faculty Profile

Barmey Ung

NMS Guitar Faculty
Ung's Kmang Kmang offers new expressions of music, art and teaching


Barmey Ung is a Cambodian-American composer, guitarist, and mixed-media artist. He has traveled the world to explore genres, mediums, cultures, and philosophies. His collected influences have molded his creative work into a “truly unique,” (Jordan Brandes, Lumino Magazine) and constantly evolving expression. These experiences have been integral in the development of his work, for which he has received the 2012 Illinois Arts Council Grant and the 2012 Chicago Community Arts Program grant. 

Barmey received his Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Miami, FL where he focused on classical guitar performance and music composition. In 2006, he studied in Madrid, Spain and was invited to perform in the Bruno, Czech Republic’s XVIth annual guitar festival.

Mr. Ung’s collaborations as a composer include the Cleveland Orchestra, University of Wisconsin Madison’s Javanese Gamelan, Chicago Opera Vanguard, and New York University. He has received notable commissions from the Gaudete Brass Quintet, Avanti Guitar Trio, and Midwest Philharmonic Children’s Orchestra.

As an artist, Mr. Ung works in video, sculpture, and mixed media. He has exhibited his work in Chicago and Miami including the Loewe Art Museum (FL), Miami Dade College, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and in Chicago Galleries such as Defibrillator Performance Arts Space.

Barmey's current project Kmang Kmang brings together his multi-disciplinary interests and diverse influences in Rock, Cambodian, Jazz, Latin, and Classical music.  Kmang Kmang has worked with classical ensembles such as Gaudete Brass Quintet, and Bach and Beethoven ensemble, and they have produced art shows and music videos.  Mia Clarke of TimeOut Chicago wrote that Barmey's "guitar plucking is masterful."  It now continues to evolve into Indie Rock, Sound Design, and Electronics


I remember being infatuated with Disney Songs when I was about 7 years old.  Our stereo system was in the basement.  So while I was alone, waiting for the school bus, I would rush down to the basement to listen to a song or two "real quick," I thought.  This also led to many times of me missing the bus.  Those were joyful moments that I still remember vividly, and I owe it to great teachers who inspired me and emersed me in music.  Through teaching and performing, I try to share that joy with others.

I began piano lessons at the age of 5, then saxophone at age 8. Later, I found the guitar and never looked back. I was and continue to be enamored with the diversity and potential of the guitar's styles and flexibility.

I have taught students of all ages who have started from scratch, to read music and play the guitar in many different styles in chamber groups or bands.  In my teaching, I focus on flexibility, technique, listening, discipline, and of course, having fun!  Many take lessons with me as a hobby or a release; others have produced and composed their own works and continued to pursue careers in music.  I have gone very far since missing the school bus while secretly listening to Disney music, and I hope that through music and teaching, I can inspire the joy I've gained in others.