The German orchestra Berliner Symphoniker arrived yesterday to perform in the capital city for the first time in the Eternal Melodies Concerts this weekend. The show will also see the participation of Vietnamese violinist Bui Cong Duy.
Duy, who won the first prize at the Tchaikovsky International Music Contest in Russia, is teaching at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music while performing as a soloist in Viet Nam and abroad in countries such as Italy, Germany, Russia and France.
He is a founder of the Ha Noi Ensemble and spoke to Culture Vulture about his work recently.
You worked as an art director for the Eternal Melodies Concert series which will take place in Ha Noi this weekend. How did you manage to get the Berliner Symphoniker involved in the concerts?
It's very lucky for me to meet and work with the Berliner Symphoniker's conductor Lior Shambadal in Viet Nam. He came to Viet Nam before and he loves the S-shaped country. He tried to find some free time in the orchestra's busy schedule and encouraged the orchestra's members to perform in Viet Nam. In addition, a violinist playing in the orchestra is Vietnamese. Le Ngoc Anh Kiet was a student of my father, professor Bui Cong Thanh, in Russia. So I had a contact in the orchestra.
In Asia, the orchestra performed in Japan, China and South Korea. What made the orchestra decide to come to Viet Nam?
Actually, it was very difficult to invite the Berliner Symphoniker to Viet Nam for a performance. Because the orchestra always has a full performing schedule, that's filled up for years in advance. Possibly, it was the human factor, confidence and sentiment that made the orchestra decide to accept the invitation. Conductor Shambadal is very surprised at the Vietnamese people's great affection for him. That influenced the plan to tour Viet Nam.
It is the first time a large orchestra with 67 musicians from the West is performing in Viet Nam. As one of the organisers, what are the challenges you faced?
The preparation for the concert took two years. We had to find investors and luckily, a private company agreed to mobilise capital for us. It is very risky and a big challenge because it is not easy to cover an international orchestra with 67 musicians. It is difficult to ask for money for an entertainment show let alone for classic music.
For this event, I received a lot of support from my colleagues. As the concert is a non-governmental event, it was very difficult to organise. Sometimes, I think I could not do because it was such a huge task, especially in raising funds.
I hope in the future, domestic enterprises will be encouraged to invest more in culture. I think it is possible if enterprises get tax exemptions in this area. This way classical music will has a chance to expand further around the world.
What will the orchestra perform at these three concerts?
The orchestra will perform three programmes, and they will comprise classical pieces regarded as "anthems" of the violin and piano. They will be some German and Austrian waltzes and polkas as well.
The organisers decided to choose symphonies that have beautiful, happy and funny melodies. They are easy to enjoy.
What do you think about the opinion that classical music needs to brought to the people? What about your ensemble?
It is necessary to socialise classic music with a view to bringing classic music closer to audiences. It will increase the ranks of classical music lovers. Currently, socialisation is being implemented in many fields including classical music. But classic concerts need to keep their artistic value.
I think that socialisation is the quickest way to promote classical music in the community. Socialisation is about entertainment rather than the academic factor to audiences. Classical music has no choice but to accept this trend.
The Ha Noi Ensemble was established over a year ago. We have held three successful concerts. We plan to have one concert every three months. The ensemble aims to perform music that's easy to listen to, in a medium-sized venue with 200-300 seats. Our ensemble is still searching for funds for the long term. — VNS