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Culture Vulture (22-04-2015)

Update: April, 22/2015 - 08:43

They aim to make traditional music more popular with younger generations. Project co-ordinator Mai Renko spoke to Culture Vulture. — Photo VNA

Vietnamese and Finnish traditional musicians and researchers held a workshop and concert in Ha Noi recently.

The Finnish-Vietnamese Traditional Music Dialogue project set up the event, under the direction of the South Ostrobothnia Music Institute, the Sibelius Academy's Seinajoki Unit, the Ha Noi College of Arts and the Viet Bac Highland Ethnic School. They aim to make traditional music more popular with younger generations. Project co-ordinator Mai Renko spoke to Culture Vulture.

Could you tell us about the project?

Ha Noi and South Ostrobothnia, where I'm living, established a friendship in 2006. There have been many Vietnamese cultural activities there, including art exhibitions, cultural days and art performances.

Being a Vietnamese expatriate living in Finland, I'm doing co-operation projects in different fields.

I met Ha Noi College of Arts Principal Minh Anh and we discussed co-operating. We decided to focus on traditional music for youth.

I spent about a month writing a project and submitting it to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland as a financial source. The project is being implemented from December 2014 to October this year.

Is Finland facing the same problem drawing young people to folk music?

Both Finland and Viet Nam have inherited rich cultural traditions, especially unique instruments and various kinds of instrumental and vocal music.

Like in Viet Nam, Finland has not yet created a standard curriculum for teaching traditional music at school. But they are encouraging students to sing traditional folk songs. They make small models of the thousand-year-old Finnish Kantele instrument and also set up Kantele clubs at schools.

What's the main point of the workshop?

The participants shared stories about the lack of basic knowledge about traditional music among young people. Dan bau (monochord) musician Thanh Tam said that she brought her instrument to an elementary school in the city, but the students there didn't know what it was. One said it's a nhi (two-chord fiddle).

The workshop is a model for the next one to be held in August in Finland. Issues discussed at the two workshops will be printed in a book.

The concert had performances by Vietnamese and Finnish artists. Did they share the stage?

Four Finnish artists came to perform: guitarist Timo Kiprianoff, violinist Piia Kleemola, accordionist Marita Yleva and pianist Jarmo Anttila. The Vietnamese performers were students from the Ha Noi College of Arts and the Viet Bac Highland Ethnic School.

They performed folk music pieces. Two Vietnamese pieces, Trong Com (Cylindrical Drum) and Beo Dat May Troi (Water Fern and Wandering Cloud), and the Finnish Tuuli Se Taivutti (The Branch Swayed in the Wind) were performed together by Vietnamese and Finnish artists.

A highlight of the concert was singing by Viet Bac Ethnic School students. The ethnic students are very pure. Folk music researchers really appreciated their performance.

What's role of the Viet Bac school?

The school and the Ha Noi College of Arts are the main partners for the project. I visited Thai Nguyen for the city's 20th anniversary. I saw a performance by the Viet Bac school students and was profoundly impressed. I promised the school principal that if I had a chance I would do something to help them.

They have received funding from the Finland embassy to travel to Ha Noi. I want to help them to preserve their traditions. There are students of 38 ethnic groups at the Viet Bac school. After three years, my promise became a reality. The Viet Bac school principal could not believe when I called her from Finland to talk about the project. — VNS

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