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Cross-cultural collaboration

Update: September, 01/2012 - 08:52

 

Side-by-side: Musicians (from left) Rhani Krija, Dhafer Youssef, Quoc Trung and Nguyen Le give a press conference early this week about their new project The Root. — File Photo
HA NOI — Musician-producer Quoc Trung launches his new project The Root with a performance tonight at the Ha Noi Opera House.

"It will be a crossover music project between Viet Nam and the world, a chance for young Vietnamese artists to collaborate with international artists," said Trung at the press conference held earlier this week at the Intercontinental Ha Noi Westlake Hotel.

The Root planned to release two albums next year, in Viet Nam and internationally, with performances at international music festivals that would help introduce Vietnamese folk music to a wider audience, Trung said.

The project grew out of the co-operation between Trung and French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le after they met in 2004.

"I admired and really wanted to work with Le," Trung said. "Right after he received my proposal I set up a plan and conceived the idea for the project. I think the collaboration will inspire the artists a lot and help us discover interesting things inside each of us."

Le, born in France of Vietnamese parents, is a jazz guitarist dedicated to exploring the marriage of "America's classical music" with traditional music from everywhere else, especially Viet Nam, according to a piece about him in The New York Times.

Along with Trung and Le, tonight's concert will feature Vietnamese pop singer Thanh Lam, traditional opera singer Kieu Anh, Tunisian musician Dhafer Youssef, and German percussion artist Rhani Krija.

"I'm so happy to be here with the invitation from Trung," Le told the press conference. "I was born and grew up in France, but I always feel the Vietnamese blood inside. The project will help us also understand about different cultures from Africa."

In tonight's performance, the artists will play Le's rearrangements of the Vietnamese folk songs Cay Truc Xinh; Ly Qua Deo and Ly Muoi Thuong. Kieu Anh, who is also studying 16-chord zither at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music, said, "It is the first time that I have sung songs by Le that are so difficult. But all of us are excited to rehearse the works."

Kieu Anh will also sing Trung's songs The Legend Story and Stream. The works blend electronic music with Vietnamese traditional elements like ca tru (ceremonial singing) and cheo (traditional opera).

"I composed The Legend Story based on my childhood memories about Vietnamese heroes," Trung said. "They were heroes in their fields but most of them had sad endings."

Youssef will perform the song with Kieu Anh. A singer and composer, Youssef began a jazz career and has lived in Europe since 1990. According to Trung, he is able to sing very high notes with a vocal quality like a clarinet.

Percussionist Rhani Krija is known for his authentic grasp of Arabic, African and Latin American musical styles. He was invited by Sting to record percussion tracks for Sting's new album Sacred Love. Tonight's concert would be his first appearance here, and he was eager to perform with Vietnamese traditional instruments like zither and bamboo flute.

The concert begins at 8pm at the Ha Noi Opera House. — VNS

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