Trần Nhật Minh graduated as Master of Music in Conducting at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory. He also completed a conducting course in Italy. However, he has decided to come back home to live with his family and help inspire Vietnamese with classical music.
Minh works at HCM City Ballet Symphony and Orchestra and is a guest teacher at HCM City Conservatory. Recently, he appeared on a television game show titled Wonderkids as musical director, a rare place indeed to honour classical music.
Conductor Minh spoke about classical music and how to inspire audiences.
You used to refuse many television game shows on music. Why did you agree to Wonderkids?
I used to refuse television game shows because I, like many of my colleages, are watchful ab out them. But Wonderkids aims to educate children and also to teach classical music, which are two my concerns. The game-show format gives me a chance to do what I want.
Luckily, the venture is produced in accordance with the original version from Denmark. It focuses on music education and inspires children about classical music. Joining the game show means that its little participants will have to practise different genres of music. Sometimes music is not their strong point, but they have to practise and perform. This helps them to understand that success can be achieved not by passion only, but also hard work and support from family and community.
Was it difficult to produce the first episode?
Yes. Wonderkids is a game show for children, so the jury have to take time getting close to the children. We have to record the first episode twice to make the show perfect and true to the original version.
Việt Nam is the first Asian country to buy copyright to the gameshow from Denmark. It is hard to produce Wonderkids in Việt Nam because of a big gap between education background and logical thought between the two countries. If the gameshow continues to be produced, next seasons should be more interesting.
What do you think about popularising classical music on television?
At present, HBSO organises classical concerts to attract young audiences. Obviously, a television show mades a bigger impact better than a concert. In fact, it is not new to popularise classical music on television. Many other countries in Europe and the United States have carried out classical music education on television since the 1950s and 1960s.
Việt Nam now engages in this field. There is an imbalance between entertainment and education television shows. Wonderkids is just a small effort of the production team to even things up.
Who will be in charge of classical music education?
HBSO is paying attention to classical music education. HBSO has subscription concerts and long term audiences. Audience numbers are increasing slowly because not many people like going to concerts.
There are many reasons. Simply, I think that classical music has a good flavour but it does not suit all tastes. We are on trying to convince audiences otherwise.
How can HBSO could get more people to classical concerts?
HBSO’s long-term project is to bring classics music to students in high schools and colleges. But we are facing a lack of human resource. We have monthly concerts on the ninth, nineteenth and twenty-ninth and we carry out co-operation projects with international partners.
My wish is to increase community interest in classical music to 0.5 per cent. This does not sound positive, but HCM City has about nine millions people. The HBSO theatre has about 500 seats and it is rarely full. If the seats are about 80 per cent filled at each concert, about 1.2 million people a year will go to concerts. The number is small.
What do the numbers say?
I don’t dream that all people like classical music. Classical music is not a priority. I still remember a sentence by a young official at a meeting between outstanding youths and HCM City Party Secretary Nguyễn Thiện Nhân that when the lamp at the theatre was turned off, the lamp at the bar is turned on.
I know that each South Korean family in the city spends an avarage amount of US$300 on music learning. Music education at an early age is their basic standard. I think that one more person learning music is one less person going wrong. Culture is one of key factors to rate a city. Orchestras and international standard theatres are the pride of big cities in the world.
But the city has not paid strong attention to this field because we have to spearhead natural disasters.
How about your efforts?
With my colleages, I want to inspire audiences to enjoy classical music. But we have to maintain our passion. We are nurturing a Vietnamese opera for children based on the story Adventure of a Cricket. It expects to debut at the end of next year. — VNS