Diva’s concert to present songs by Trịnh Công Sơn in jazz & blues

March 06, 2023 - 08:22
Named after the diva’s nickname Bống, the concert Bống Là Ai? (Who is Bống?) will take place at the Hà Nội Opera House on March 11 and 12.

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese diva Hồng Nhung will hold a live concert dedicated to late songwriter Trịnh Công Sơn, one of the greatest musicians of Vietnamese neo-music, this weekend.

Named after the diva’s nickname "Bống", the concert Bống Là Ai? (Who is Bống?) will take place at the Hà Nội Opera House on March 11 and 12.

According to the diva, who had a strong bond with the composer, she nurtured the idea for the concert for years.

“When the composer was still alive, he wished that his music some day would be performed in jazz and blues styles,” she said.

Hồng Nhung talks with the media at a press conference about her concert 'Bống Là Ai?' (Who Is Bống?). — Photo courtesy of the organiser

During the concert, Nhung will perform 20 remixed versions of Sơn's songs, including Bống Bồng Ơi that, he especially wrote for her 30 years ago.

Nhung's repertoire will also feature some songs composed by herself.

“The concert will be a ‘conservation’ with the composer, who I can ‘talk with’, not only through my vocals but also my own compositions,” Nhung said.

She said that she learned a lot from her beloved composer, from music knowledge to life philosophy.

“Those knowledge has helped me to create these compositions dedicated to him. He is my great teacher, and my life has been influenced significantly by his music and philosophy,” Nhung said.

Concert director Cao Trung Hiếu said that Nhung's own songs express much emotion.

“Music by Trịnh Công Sơn and Hồng Nhung will blend and support each other, creating emotional vibrations for the audience,” he said.

Diva Hồng Nhung (right), photographer Dương Minh Long (centre), and diva Thanh Lam at a press conference about her concert 'Bống Là Ai?' (Who Is Bống?). — Photo courtesy of the organiser

Hiếu also revealed that the concert stage would be set up in a minimalist style, aiming “to highlight only the music”.

Not only performed in the concert but the melodies composed by Hồng Nhung will also be presented in a music video entitled Simple Beauty.

The event on the weekend will also feature some guest artists, including French jazz singer Clara Simonovier. He will solo the song Như Cánh Vạc Bay (Like the Flying Bittern) in French, and duet with Nhung the song Bống Bồng Ơi.

Alongside the concert Bống Là Ai?, singer Hồng Nhung will release the same title vinyl. The special production features eight time-tested songs by Sơn, including the song Như Cánh Vạc Bay sung by Simonovier.

Music band comprising famous international artists such as French musician Jean-Sébastien Simonoviez (piano and trumpet), Italian bassist Dominique Di Pizza, Vietnamese-French guitarist Nguyên Lê, and Vietnamese saxophonist Quyền Thiện Đắc, joined in the vinyl project.

All the producing steps, from recording to remixing, and mastering, were done in France. 

The vinyl will be released with a limited edition of 1,000 copies.

A photo taken in 1995 by photographer Dương Minh Long featuring singer Hồng Nhung and composer Trịnh Công Sơn. — Photo courtesy of Dương Minh Long

Furthermore, on her birthday, March 15, an exhibition showcasing photos of Nhung and Sơn will be opened at the German House (Deutsches Haus) in HCM City. Taken by famous photographer Dương Minh Long during the 1990s, all the photos are never-seen-before.

When he was still alive, Sơn once commented on Nhung’s voice: "When she sings my songs, some people like it, while some others don't. But I like it because she sings my songs with the spirit of a new and younger generation. That makes my music have a place in the present, not just popular in the past."

Both Sơn and Nhung built a special bond that inspired him to write three songs dedicated to her: Bống Bồng Ơi, Thuở Bống Là Người (When Bống Is a Human) and Bống Không Là Bống (Another Bống).

Once called the Bob Dylan of Việt Nam by renowned US singer Joan Baez, Trịnh Công Sơn penned more than 600 songs during his long and illustrious career.

Sơn, along with Văn Cao and Phạm Duy, is widely considered one of the most salient figures of modern Vietnamese music.

He died in HCM City on April 1, 2001, aged 62. Many singers perform his music, but the most successful are Khánh Ly, Lệ Thu, Hồng Nhung, and Quang Dũng. — VNS