Violinist offers fresh twist on popular songs with new album

May 31, 2023 - 08:34
Popular violinist Trịnh Minh Hiền has released an album Phượng Linh (Sarced Phoenix) to mark her 20-year career. The album has 12 pieces, including Tiến Quân Ca (The National Anthem of Việt Nam).
Multi-violinist Trịnh Minh Hiền. Photo coutersy of Trịnh Minh Hiền

Popular violinist Trịnh Minh Hiền has released an album Phượng Linh (Sarced Phoenix) to mark her 20-year career. The album has 12 pieces, including Tiến Quân Ca (The National Anthem of Việt Nam).

Two new works, Phượng Linh and Cây Đời (Tree of Life), are composed by Hiền. The album is available on digital platforms in over 200 countries and territories.

The violinist Hiền speaks about her new album.

Why did you name the album Phượng Linh?

It is one of the pieces in the album. I composed the piece to review my career over the years. It uses techniques showing the beauty of the violin sound. The work uses many techniques to show the beauty of the violin sound. It tells the story of a sacred phoenix living on the top of the highest snow mountain in Tibet.

The image of the phoenix is familiar in both Eastern and Western cultures and symbolises endogenous strength, rebirth, and immortality.

I need such energies as the phoenix to work, create and go on my path. I think that a true artist has the same journey. The artist always works hard and has challenges to refine her/his work.

Other pieces in the album are popular with audiences like Chiếc Khăn Piêu (Piêu Scarf), Trên Đỉnh Phù Vân (On Top of Flowing Clouds) or Tiếng Trống Paranung (The Paranung Drum Sound). They are about wonderful forests and mountains, and I see Phượng Linh is a suitable name for the album.

What is the difference between your album and others?

Over the past years, I have seen that it lacks music products which harmonise the professional and entertainment elements.

The pieces are popular with audiences, but they will find creativity in the album.

I have been the music director for a concert during the past ten years featuring patriotic music pieces. I am always moving because of the patriotism in these pieces.

I made music products, including Tiến Quân Ca (National Anthem) on the occasion of National Day in 2022 and Đất Nước Trọn Niềm Vui (National Full of Joy) on the occasion of National Reunification Day in 2023.

I've been thinking that an artist should have a dedication to their career. And I choose to dedicate myself to the country. So I usually perform the pieces to praise the country over the past years.

I want to make music products to celebrate the national festive days. The products will be milestones in my career.

Another important thing is that by making music products, I can work with other talented artists. It is meant to do something together for the country within our ability.

You used to perform in Việt Nam National Symphony and Orchestra (VNSO). Why did you leave it?

It needs to confirm that I am not a classical violinist. I'm proud of my path. I have researched different styles for many years. I like playing with different styles, which inspires me to create art in my career. I am popular as a multi-style violinist.

A classical violinist doesn't have a chance to perform. When I perform at the VNSO, I know that my full-time colleagues struggle to pay their bills. They have to work extra jobs to support their living, and I am no exception.

I have had good friends on my way. They see my career love and my devotion to my career. They know that I don't have much money to pay them, but they still help and support me a lot. They understand me, and they find my work valuable.

I work very hard, and I think it is lucky to have a chance to work.

How old were you when you picked up an instrument for the first time?

My parent wanted me to learn music. Violin and piano are more popular than other Western instruments. The piano is more favoured, but it is not easy to buy it. My parents were teachers, and they didn't have much money.

So I began to learn violin at six years old. In the early days, my teachers told my father that I was gifted and he should encourage me to practise every day.

My father told me to obey my teachers strictly. I must stay at home practising while my friends hang out for fun.

The violin is often considered one of the most difficult instruments to learn. Have you ever been discouraged and wanted to give up?

All students at Việt Nam National Academy of Music are taught that it takes a lot of effort and never give up. I'm grateful to learn at the academy when I was small; I always had that thought.

However, the passion doesn't come right away because I have to practise too much and never know when it comes to an end. As you say, the violin is one of the most difficult instruments to learn, requiring much concentration and perseverance.

I think no violin learner likes the violin from the beginning, but gradually she or he will love it.

I remember that on my graduation day, my teacher hugged me and told me that the next journey would depend on me and I should hold on to what I had got.

What did you inspire from musician Lê Minh Sơn at the beginning of your career?

I have to thank Sơn. He invited me to perform in his band in the year 2000s. He helped me to target my goal.

He told me I should compose from my personal feeling, not trendy. His words make my path difficult. I am sometimes bewildered to the extreme. VNS