|Attuned: Vo Van Anh plays the dan tranh (16-chord zither). She has launched a music project to encourage young composers to work with Vietnamese traditional music instruments. — File Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — A music project to encourage young composers of Vietnamese traditional music instruments has been launched by US-based artist Vo Van Anh.
Music Bridge, Under 25 targets young composers, musicians and especially music students, aged under 25.
Anh, a former student of the Traditional Music Instrument Department of the Viet Nam National Academy of Music in Ha Noi, said the compositions would be "food" for the instruments and encourage their use.
"While our country has a treasure trove of traditional instruments, we have a limited number of suitable compositions for them," Anh said.
Academy students had practised the same old music pieces over the decades and the academy's traditional orchestra had a limited repertoire, which they repeated again and again.
Meanwhile, hardly anyone was studying composition for traditional instruments.
Record successes for young star
Vo Van Anh, whose stage name in the US is Vanessa Vo, is a California-based Vietnamese musician. She can play the dan tranh (16-chord zither), dan tam thap luc (36-chord zither), dan bau (monochord) and t'rung (bamboo xylophone). She also produces compositions combining folk and modern melodies for Vietnamese musical instruments.
Anh began studying dan tranh when she was four years old, graduating with distinction from the Viet Nam National Academy of Music. In 1995, she won the National Dan Tranh Competition along with an award for a solo performance of modern folk music.
Among her accomplishments are the 2009 Emmy Award-winning soundtrack for the documentary Bolinao 52, which she co-composed and recorded, and the soundtrack for the Sundance Film Festival best documentary in 2002.
"They know their instruments well but they lack basic knowledge of composition," Anh said. "In addition, they seem to think composition is the responsibility of someone else."
So, Anh decided to return to Viet Nam to co-operate with the academy in the project to spur composing.
Under the project, each participant would receive small financial support and the completed compositions would be judged by significant composers. The best would be performed by the orchestra and students.
The participants would be required to attend lectures and also have the chance to talk to music experts from the US and local Vietnamese artisans to gain experience and learn new trends.
"The purpose of the lectures is to equip students with basic knowledge on how to compose a folk tune," Anh said. "However, the compositions should not go beyond the common music trends. The students can experiment with any music types."
Head of the academy's traditional instrument department Le Pho said: "The project will not only help accumulate ‘quality food' for traditional instruments, but also promote creativeness among young people."
It would also draw public attention to the genre.
The project is expected to last for next three years and is already under way in Hue and HCM City. — VNS