Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese overseas đàn bầu (monochord) musician Phạm Đức Thành returns for his milestone concert at the Hà Nội Opera House on March 3, where he will perform the first Vietnamese traditional instrument.
Entitled Độc Huyền Cầm (monochord in Chinese script), the concert will display a wide range of music genres, including folk, pop, rock, new wave and electronic music.
"I love Vietnamese folk music and I love đàn bầu," said traditional musician Thành. "Đàn bầu is a unique instrument which represents typical Vietnamese cultural characteristics. I call đàn bầu the "princess" of Vietnamese traditional instruments".
Thành will perform with singers, including A-listed Trọng Tấn, popular Vietnamese overseas singer Quang Lê, and his wife Phương Linh. He also will play with veteran saxophonist Trần Mạnh Tuấn and orchestras using western and traditional Vietnamese instruments.
Trọng Tấn will open the concert by singing Tiếng Đàn Bầu (Sound of Đàn Bầu) with musicians Thành and Tuấn. The song by Nguyễn Đình Phúc and Lữ Giang highligting đàn bầu will be performed, for the first time, with a saxophone.
"I like Trọng Tấn because he has warm vocal tones and he is an expressive singer. Trọng Tấn and Quang Lê, who represent the two different kinds of music, will sing Việt Nam Quê Hương Tôi (Việt Nam My Homeland). I’m moved just to think about the performance".
Other music pieces will introduce the root and development of đàn bầu, such as xẩm (blind busker singing) pieces and Lý Kéo Chài (a southern folk song). Xẩm is known as the first music genre to be performed by đàn bầu, whilst the instrument will play the southern folk song with a rock style, said the musician.
Thành’s composition, entitled Hội Làng Ta (Our Village Festival), will close the concert with a performance of đàn bầu, the orchestra and dance. He wrote the piece in 2013, based on northern’s chèo (traditional opera).
"I was born in the countryside in the north, where I was surrounded by paddy-fields and chèo songs," said Thành. "These things nurtured me and made me feel that I wanted to live in my homeland".
The show is performed with Vàng Son Một Thuở (Once Golden Melodies) to respect the musician who has devoted his life to Vietnamese traditional instruments and, in particular, đàn bầu.
Thành is a renowned musician known for his masterful ability on đàn bầu. Born to a traditional musical family in Gia Phú Village, Gia Viễn District in northern Ninh Bình Province, his talent was fully apparent in his youth. He began playing chèo drum at age 4 and learned mandolin at age 5. He was playing đàn bầu and đàn nhị (two-string fiddle) at age 6.
Thành joined Việt Nam Chèo Theatre and officially became a professional đàn bầu performer in 1974. Before graduating with top honours at the Việt Nam Institute for Musicology’s Vietnamese Traditional Music College in 1983, he went to HCM City to further study the folk music of central and southern Việt Nam.
He and his family moved to Canada in 1996, where he became a popular performer in Montreal. He also teaches đàn bầu at the Vietnamese Music School in Canada. He currently is returning to Việt Nam to participate in performances.
"When I perform in the US or other countries, audiences like đàn bầu very much. I dream of a concert performing in my homeland to honour đàn bầu," said Thành.
The one-night concert will begin at 8pm at the Hà Nội Opera House. Tickets are VNĐ500,000 (US$22) to VNĐ3 million. Call 0912600096 - 0981843191 for more information. — VNS