|Literary feast: A Vietnamese girl scans the young adult novel Miss Nobody by Polish writer Tomek Tryma on European Literature Day. Recently published Vietnamese translations of books from eight European countries were on display at the event. — Photo thegioivanhoa.com.vn
by Thuy Hang
HA NOI (VNS)— A few weeks ago, 20 year-old student Vu The Anh waited patiently outside of the Ha Noi Goethe Institute, bracing the scorching summer heat until he could finally squeeze gratefully into the main entrance and claim his ticket for a concert of the Munich Chamber Choir in Ha Noi.
The choir's performances in Viet Nam were part of the recently wrapped-up Europe Days – an annual month-long programme featuring a series of cultural and intellectual events aimed at creating a bridge for cross-cultural exchanges.
Anh was among tens of thousands of locals who enjoyed the different activities making up the Europe Days, which were co-hosted by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Viet Nam, the EU National Institute for Culture and embassies of the EU member states.
As a student of the German language, Anh was keen to learn about German culture and didn't hesitate in his bid for a ticket.
And it was not just Vietnamese people broadening their cultural horizons. Many foreigners living in the country also decided to make the most of the wide range of events.
Kim Megson, a British editor who moved to live in Ha Noi last September, said he could not find an empty seat at the Munich Choir concert even though he arrived a while before the performance started.
"In the end, I managed to perch at the top of some steps with a decent view of the singers and the Vietnamese orchestra accompanying them. It wasn't very comfortable, but the music was great. Although I wasn't familiar with any of the pieces they played, and so can't judge with any real expertise, to me it sounded pretty flawless," he said.
"Other audiences seemed to enjoy the show too as they were filming the whole thing on their iPads, which at least shows they were interested, although I would have liked to watch the performance first-hand from their seats," he added.
Like Megson, local woman Thuy Nga didn't understand much of the chamber music that the choir performed. However she greatly enjoyed the moment when the German choir sang the Vietnamese folk tune Beo Dat May Troi (Adrift Water Fern, Floating Cloud).
"I've never heard the chamber version of this song, so it was very nice to enjoy a foreign choir singing a Vietnamese song in the Vietnamese language. I have no idea how long the artists had practiced, but they performed it very well," the 64-year-old said.
Both Nga and Megson hope that more events like this will be organised in the future.
"The Opera House is a great venue, and further free events can only encourage more people to broaden their cultural horizons," Megson said.
The Europe Days also featured a film festival presenting 16 movies from 14 countries. Although screenings were held in Ha Noi, Da Nang and HCM City, not everyone was able to get hold of tickets for the films they wanted to see.
After a fruitless hunt for tickets, newly-wed couple Minh Thu and Hoai Nam almost gave up on watching the latest British adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
"I have loved the book since I was a schoolgirl, so I was really eager to go to the screening in Ha Noi. I was quite disappointed when we couldn't find any tickets. Luckily we were given a pair by a friend who had to reschedule at the last minute," Thu said.
The screening they attended was packed and the film proved a big success.
Thu said she was lucky to find an empty seat, as many others had to watch from the aisles because "there were many more people than cinema seats".
"I was also keen to watch other movies but again I couldn't find tickets. Of the four I wanted to see, I only went to two."
Twenty-year-old student Mai Anh went to see the Swedish drama Eat Sleep Die, which depicts the struggles of a young immigrant in southern Sweden.
"I was curious too see a story about a person of my age living in a different culture so that's why I decided to attend the screening," she said.
Ngoc Diep – a woman working in the Viet Nam office of a multi-national corporation – noted down information about the Europe Days from local media.
"I enjoyed the concert featuring Belgian pianist Eric Legnini with my husband, watched movies with my friends and visited the German comic exhibition with my sons," she said.
Her four-member family also enjoyed various types of food and drink at the European Food Festival.
The Delegation of the EU to Viet Nam has estimated that about 20,000 people participated directly in events taking place in Ha Noi, Da Nang, Can Tho and HCM City.
Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation Franz Jessen said, "We are truly delighted to witness the growing public attention in Viet Nam for the Europe Days programme.
"Offering a wide choice among diverse and stimulating cultural events, we hope that Europe Days 2013, featuring 13 cultural and intellectual activities, have continued their attraction to many people across the spectrum of Vietnamese society." — VNS