Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The cradle of many Vietnamese singing talents, Sao Mai (Morning Star) song contest, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month with the participation of 30 potential stars.
Despite many questions on the quality and quantity of the contestants in recent years, the contest still promises to reveal the country’s best new singers.
Before the mushrooming of reality shows seeking musical talents, Sao Mai was the most-watched programme on Việt Nam Television. The show discovered and supported many young singing stars, such as Hồ Quỳnh Hương, Ngọc Khuê or Trọng Tấn.
Its 20th season continues to be much anticipated.
“Sao Mai contest seeks truly talented singers without any tricks to increase views like other contemporary reality shows,” said Trần Huyền Anh, who has watched the contest since its early seasons.
In comparison with previous years, Sao Mai 2017 has several fresh changes to its organisation. Besides three finales of three genres, including chamber music, folk music, and pop, and a final night, there will be a gala night on September 30. This event will gather famous singers who have won awards in previous Sao Mai competitions, such as Khánh Linh, Hồ Quỳnh Hương and Ngọc Khuê.
“It (the gala night) will not only be a meeting but also a programme summarising the 20-year path of Sao Mai,” revealed Trịnh Lê Văn, the head of the organising board of Sao Mai 2017, at the press conference.
Another striking new feature of this year’s competition is a regulation governing the contestants’ outfits. They must not wear costumes that reveal too much skin or bear any trade marks. The organising board has the right to eliminate any contestant who lacks professional requirements or causes any negative influences on the reputation of the contest. Such strict regulations are considered necessary to enhance the young singers’ awareness of their responsibilities as they pursue careers in the arts.
Though Sao Mai 2017 did not hold elimination rounds abroad as in previous seasons due to a financial shortage, there are still three contestants attending arts schools in China and Russia.
“Actually, the changes do not lie in the format as much as in the contestants, in their song selections and performances, which will create the overall picture of musical taste of this year’s season,” Văn said
Traditional: Contestant Phan Ngọc Ánh performed in the finale of folk music, which was held last Saturday. — Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
Losing the audience?
Sao Mai, Việt Nam’s singing contest which has been held for the longest period of time, yielded many talented singers like Trọng Tấn or Anh Thơ in its early seasons.
But that was before the appearance of envelope-pushing reality shows that won audiences with bold entertainment.
The recent seasons of Sao Mai have had to compete intensely for audience and talented contestants. Other shows like X-Factor or The Voice, whose formats were adapted from international versions, are screened during prime time and have become extremely popular.
“It is natural to compare a show’s popularity with others that are similar, but such comparison is not the foundation to judge which one is more attractive,” Văn told Việt Nam News. “Sao Mai is only one among the talent-seeking programmes on television. It has silently been through its 20 years with 10 seasons, creating new stars who have become influential in both performing and training fields. I think that the attractiveness of each programme could only be judged due to the concern of particular audience.”
The contest has been well-reputed for the high quality of the contestants, most of whom are students from international and domestic arts schools. It is also a prestigious contest and the only one that gathers three genres: chamber music, folk music, and pop, said the head of the organising board.
According to Văn, Sao Mai 2017 attracted a huge number of contestants, only 30 of whom are eligible to enter the final round.
“It is not a noisy but very strict contest. Each contestant, after a long time of training, only performs in front of the judge and audience once, then either moves forward or is eliminated, which is the feature that differentiates Sao Mai from others and that the organising board are determined to preserve over the years,” Văn said.
The chamber music performance finale took place on September 9 and the folk music finale was on September 16. The pop finale will be organised this Saturday. Four contestants in each of the three genres will be selected to enter the final round.
The competition’s finale and awards ceremony will be broadcast live from FLC Sầm Sơn Resort, Thanh Hóa Province on October 7.
Since July, the contest has whittled down singers from three regions across the country to select the best singers for the final round.
Sao Mai singing contest, first conceived as the National Television Singing Festival, has been held every two years since 1997. — VNS