Viet Nam News
The BandFest 2018 will gather internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê and his band along with four other young Vietnamese bands. They’ll perform at the Hà Nội Opera House on April 30. Initiated by Việt Nam’s famous composer and music producer Anh Quân and his wife, diva Mỹ Linh, BandFest is expected to be Việt Nam’s first international indoor music festival dedicated solely to instrumental-only bands and not just singers. Quân talks with Việt Nam News about his project.
Where did the idea for BandFest come from?
My team and I have nurtured the idea for a long time because I have long wanted to create a “real” stage for music bands to play and present themselves. There was the “golden time” for music bands in the past, when the bands played a key role in establishing new trends in music. However, at present, they no longer hold that significant role; instead, that position is dominated by the singers.
Though we have witnessed in recent years the births of several bands, which have made strong impressions on music fans with their unique personalities and talents, most of those bands haven’t reached their potential, without professional performing stages and market access. The BandFest is for the bands to play equally together, with no one having the responsibility or duty to back any other. In addition, at the festival, talented young Vietnamese bands will also have chance to play with famous international bands.
For a long time, most people have not been aware of the importance of a music band. They even maintain a default thought that the band is supporting the singers or is just secondary. Through the event, we also expect to help the public understand more about the important position of bands that are not under the spotlight.
Do you have any concerns while implementing this project?
My biggest concern is how to make all the young musicians, most of them are teenagers, feel confident to show their best on stage, especially when they share the stage with famous artist Nguyên Lê and his band. I am the one who invited those young people to join the BandFest, so, like a coach, I have to talk and discuss with them regularly, helping them to have a good mood and confidence.
The BandFest is dedicated to a new generation of young musicians. Myself, I want to contribute to the building-up of this generation, whose talent reassures me about the future.
How do you expect the festival to attract young people?
It’s not easy to attract young audience in first seasons. For most of the young people, listening to music means listening to singing, and very few of them listen to instrumental music. However, year by year, I hope the BandFest will become a “spirit food” in their “music menu”.
In more specific terms, what strategy does BandFest employ to draw young audiences?
In the first iteration this year, the BandFest will feature music bands with different kinds of music including hip hop, pop and jazz.
This is my long-term project and I expect the festival will be an annual event. It’s hard to predict how things will go in the coming years but I promise that the debut season this year will not be the only one. In case the event doesn’t magnetize the expected number of audience, I still go on. For myself, I assess that this festival is an interesting event, so I assume that the audience will gradually find it interesting. That’s why I’m confident to pursue this project.
Can you reveal how much money you have invested into this project?
I will not say anything about the cost. In addition, there are a lot of factors which are impossible to convert to money.
To implement this project, I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of support from my friends and the bands who participate in the festival. They are all aware that this is a good opportunity for them.
Why don’t you ask for sponsorship, instead of spending your own money for the project?
Honestly, it is easier to ask for sponsorship if your event has created a reputation for itself. However I don’t want to depend on sponsorship because then the event/programme will be affected by the sponsor.
The Monsoon Music Festival, initiated by composer/music producer Quốc Trung, has offered Vietnamese audiences crowd-pleasing shows featuring several famous Vietnamese and international artists. Will the BandFest audience have the chance to enjoy similar quality performances?
My main intention is to focus on the bands themselves. The debut season of the BandFest this year will feature only four bands – all of them are talented and promising, including the winner of the reality show Ban Nhạc Việt (Vietnamese Band) Yellow Star Big Band, PB Nation, Màu Nước and Jazz Glory. The highlight of the event will be the performances of jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê and his band. My wife, Mỹ Linh, will also perform with the Nguyên Lê Band.
The BandFest 2018 repertoire will also include a performance presented by the wife of the Swedish Ambassador to Việt Nam, Anna Hogberg, who is also a singer. Hogberg, a singing teacher and a choir leader in her home country, will perform with Jazz Glory. – VNS