The Asia-Europe New Music Festival opens today in Ha Noi and Ha Long Bay, its first appearance in an Asian country. The event will end on Sunday.
Musician Do Hong Quan, head of the organisation's board and chairman of the Viet Nam Musicians' Association, spoke to Culture Vulture about the event.
Could you tell us a bit about the festival, and why Viet Nam is the first Asian country to host it?
The prestigious music festival was created by the Union of Composers of Russia and Tatarstan in 1993. The biennial festival draws participants from Asia and Europe. Viet Nam took part in the festival in 2011 and 2013.
I was invited to attend the 11th festival in 2013 as a composer and chairman of the Viet Nam Musicians' Association. I took a traditional music troupe to the festival, and this was the first time the Vietnamese monochord (dan bau) had been heard there.
Then, the festival founders approved my proposition to hold the festival in Viet Nam.
What are the criteria to perform at the festival? And how do Vietnamese musicians prepare?
The only requirements are that the compositions must be new and show the musician's typical style. Vietnamese musical works are composed by artists with a wide range of styles, from classical to contemporary and improvisation.
They include the symphony Rendezvous by Nguyen Thien Dao, the oratorio Chieu Doi Do (Royal Proclamation on Moving the Capital) by Doan Nho and Nhung O Cua (Windows) by Trong Dai.
I also want to stress that young musicians will perform in the Viet Nam National Academy of Music's concert hall at 10am on October 9. They are talented, and are just discovering their own styles. But all of them have works that show their traditional roots. I think these musicians will develop Vietnamese classical music.
How do Vietnamese musicians benefit when their association hosts an international festival?
Viet Nam is on its way to developing a comprehensive music scene, from classical to pop music. Since the late 1950s, it has sent people to study music at conservatories in Moscow, Sofia, Leipzig and Beijing. These musicians laid the foundation for Vietnamese classical music.
Since then, Viet Nam has had four generations of professional classical composers. They are composing high quality musical works that they can confidently introduce to international musicians.
The festival will create a dialogue between Vietnamese classical musicians and those from other countries. It is a chance for all to play, enjoy and value the new compositions.
The musicians will hear different musical trends, as well as know more about the diverse methods used to create contemporary music. It is very important, because non-stop creativity is a skill all musicians possess.
If the Vietnamese performances go over well, musicians will be given more opportunities to work with their international colleagues.
How are Asian and European skills exchanged at the festival?
The musicians must have a profound knowledge of how instruments function and follow new achievements in music around the world. They have to be masters of the orchestra. Music is an innovative science for both Asian and European musicians. Through the melodies and notes, people can understand each other and the history of different nationalities.
A seminar will be held today and tomorrow. What will it focus on?
The seminar will focus on musical compositions. Participants from the Philippines, Russia, France, Norway and Viet Nam will make presentations.
How many international musicians are attending the festival?
There are 51 musicians and performing artists. For most, it is their first visit to Viet Nam.
Many musicians expressed a desire to hear more Vietnamese music. I think the festival will help them learn that Viet Nam is not only a beautiful and open country, but also a place for classical music. — VNS