Music producer challenges himself with new classical music project

June 11, 2024 - 16:24
Thanh Việt Production – the producer of Monsoon Music Festival, the Việt Nam’s biggest annual music festival, has introduced their newest music project – Timeless Resonance, aiming to present top classical music artists of Việt Nam and the world. The series was kicked off with two concerts recently in Hà Nội and HCM City featuring world-famous pianist Đặng Thái Sơn and three of his students.

Thanh Việt Production – the producer of Monsoon Music Festival, Việt Nam’s biggest annual music festival - introduced their newest music project – Timeless Resonance, aiming to present top classical music artists of Việt Nam and the world. The series debuted with two concerts in Hà Nội and HCM City featuring world-famous pianist Đặng Thái Sơn and three of his students.

Established music producer and composer Quốc Trung – founder and director of Thanh Việt Production talked with Thúy Hằng about his company’s new direction.

Founder and director of Thanh Việt Production, established music producer and composer Quốc Trung. — Photo courtesy of Thanh Việt Production

Can you share with us the idea of ‘Timeless Resonance’?

It was nurtured about three years ago when we established contact with representatives and agencies of famous classical music artists. I have connected those artists with some Vietnamese promoters, bringing them in to perform.

However, whether booking an artist for such events is successful or not depends entirely on their tour programme. If those specific events are not matching with their tour, most agencies and artists would refuse. From this, we have thought about building up a professional performance organisation industry, including the organisation of classical music concerts, in an efficient manner with long-term planning. We should even create performance season like the countries where they have developed music industry. This will better connect the music market in the region and Việt Nam, thus reducing artist fees and creating more opportunities to introduce international artists to a local audience.

By presenting leading classical music artists of the world, I hope to cultivate the public’s habit of enjoying classical music, at the same time offering them chance to enjoy top quality performances.

Besides, through those performances, local Vietnamese artists can have self-assessment, from that to set new goals for themselves. Pianist Đặng Thái Sơn is a typical example of the effort and desire to reach the international level in one of the most difficult music genres.

World-renowned pianist Đặng Thái Sơn (left) and his students present an eight-hand performance during the opening concert of ‘Timeless Resonance’ in Hà Nội on June 2. — Photo courtesy of Thanh Việt Production

In Việt Nam, most classical music concerts featuring famous artists and orchestras need the financial support of sponsors. With Timeless Resonance, do you have any?

When I started the project, I didn’t have a sponsor. Some people said that I am reckless, and I think I am. Pianist Sơn asked me if I could carry out the concert and I responded firmly ‘yes’ to him. To support me, he even recommended a minimum artist fee in case I can’t sell the tickets.

However, it was lucky when Japanese Group Idemitsu, which has been organising concerts in Japan for more than 60 years, decided to sponsor the concert in Hà Nội. I was also blessed to have some supportive friends who offered a small amount to keep me going.

I hope once the series is established, it will receive more support that can help us to invite the best artists in the world. Honestly, my wish is that all the concert tickets can be sold out without any sponsorship. This means the public’s enjoyment of classical music becomes an indispensable need and they are willing to pay for that necessity.

In Việt Nam, the concerts with world-famous artists have always been considered as very special cultural events. In my opinion, we should regard them as an obvious and indispensable 'food for soul' – a kind of necessity and listening to classical music should become a daily habit.

From a business perspective, were the two concerts successful?

As mentioned earlier, we have received much luck in terms of pianist Sơn. His performances in Việt Nam coincided with his performing schedule in some other Asian countries in the region, so the production costs were significantly reduced and we could cover all the costs.

In comparison with many other countries, the cost of producing a concert of equivalent quality in Việt Nam is quite high, which creates a barrier for many audiences.

Currently, the concert ticket price is higher than the average income of most of classical music lovers. More importantly, most concerts in Việt Nam are not of high quality and so the demand has not been so great.

Another reason is that there is not any concert tour for our own Vietnamese market, so Việt Nam also lacks connections with the live performance industry in other countries, including classical music performances, to bring more foreign artists in.

Thanh Việt Production has chosen classical music as its new direction. What is next after the ‘Timeless Resonance’ series?

For the moment, our goal is to organise a ‘Timeless Resonance’ concert at least once a year. We will arrange other concerts if we find other suitable artists and they can get Việt Nam in their performance schedules. Another important condition is that we need to get the financial side right.

In addition to concerts, ‘Timeless Resonance’ will include other projects relating to classical music and in October, we will bring a world-famous symphony orchestra with more than 100 musicians to perform in Việt Nam.

An audience seen enjoying the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in Hà Nội in October 2019. — Photo courtesy of Thanh Việt Production

Alongside performance of renowned pianist Đặng Thái Sơn at the opening concert of the ‘Timeless Resonance’ series, I have been thinking of how to get him back to Việt Nam. I connected with a prominent theatre in Hà Nội to have him on their stage for the 70th Điện Biên Phủ Victory celebration recently. I also planned to bring him back to perform with the Việt Nam National Symphony Orchestra. As a result of what we have been doing for him, pianist Đặng Thái Sơn has decided to choose us as his only representative in Việt Nam.

We are also the official representative in Việt Nam for the London Symphony Orchestra during 2025-2026.

It can be said for the time being, choosing classical music is a risky and lonely step. However, I am the one who always wants to walk on my own path. If I get success with this new direction, maybe there will be more people to jump in and help. But to get involved in any field, it requires both know-how and knowledge and especially, a long-term strategy. — VNS