Viet Nam News
By Hồ Hoàng
HÀ NỘI — There were no seats left in St. Joseph’s Cathedral on June 29th, when people packed the pews for the latest concert organised by Maestoso, a new initiative by talented young classical musicians on a mission to bring the music they love to a wider audience.
The concert featured for young artists. First, violinist Hoàng Hồ Khánh Vân and pianist Hoàng Hồ Thu performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in B flat Major – K454. Then, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor – Opus 19 was performed by cellist Phan Đỗ Phúc and pianist Lưu Đức Anh – one of the founders of Maestoso.
More than duet partners, Thu and Vân are also sisters who have performed together since they first began studying classical music. At the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy in Budapest on full scholarships to the chamber music course, Thu and Vân worked with famous music professors Gulyás Márta and Mező Péter. They have won many international prizes, including the reputable Dohnányi award at the Dohnányi Ernő Chamber Music Competition in Debrecen, Hungary.
“Me and my big sister Thu are very attached,” said Khánh Vân, 21. “As partners, we can be straight with each other and able to discuss without any misunderstandings because we know that both are trying to help each other.”
They also share a desire to spread classical music, which they call “a treasure for humanity” with fellow Vietnamese.
“After six years of studying abroad, receiving an invitation to perform in my hometown in front of so many people made me really nervous, but with support from my family and colleagues, curiosity from the public and enthusiasm from media, we were given so much strength and motivation,” said Hồ Thu.
It’s important to the sisters to spread the word that the classical tradition not only includes the European countries in which it originated, but the entire world. Studying and appreciating classical music, they say, can enhance understanding of and aptitude in other styles of music, like folk and pop.
“As a Vietnamese person who is fortunate to learn classical music from a young age, seeing that the habit of listening to classical music is a strange thing for many Vietnamese always makes me feel the urge to do something,” Thu said. “Maestoso is a sign of a change.”
Soul sisters: Sisters Hoàng Hồ Thu and violinist Hoàng Hồ Khánh Vân perform at the Hà Nội Cathedral.
The crowds at St. Joseph’s show that Maestoso is starting to succeed in their mission. Maestoso was founded in 2017 by Dương Vũ Minh, Nguyễn Đức Anh, Nguyễn Phú Sơn and Lưu Đức Anh, a group of Vietnamese musicians who have been studying abroad at famous international universities of music. Their motto is: Making classical music accessible to Vietnamese audiences while maintaining the highest standards of quality.
Since December 2017, Maestoso has held four concerts in Hà Nội.
The tickets for their June concert, which were totally free, were fully reserved after just 14 days of promotion. They’ve already created a few new fans of classical music.
“At first, I thought classical music was hard to listen and only suitable for a number of people, but after this concert, I’ve changed my mind,” said Nguyễn Trang Kiều My, 21, who attended her first-ever classical concert at St. Joseph’s. “I’d heard of Mozart but didn’t know any of his work until now. The melody and the rhythm is really enticing. I can ‘feel’ it by looking at the artists’ expressions; they were so dedicated and talented. And the setting at the dignified St. Joseph’s Cathedral made the experience even more glorious.”
Dương Vũ Minh, a co-founder and director of Maestoso, knows that people consider classical music difficult to listen to. But he says that listening to classical music doesn’t require a “scientist’s” ear—rather, the science inside every composition, which are the rhythm, the melody and the harmony, create a masterpiece that can touch people’s hearts.
To make it easier for listeners to adapt, Maestoso’s concert format is different from other traditional classical concert. They are relatively short and consist of pieces selected to appeal to a broad audience, said pianist Lưu Đức Anh, founder and artistic director of Maestoso
Over the long term, Maestoso plans to continue organising concerts in the capital, expand to hold events in HCM City and develop new opportunities for people to experience classical music and interact with the musicians.
“There are also more unusual activities such as master classes with prestigious Vietnamese and foreign artists and seminars to explain classical music for the audience. We expect Maestoso to become a bridge between Vietnamese artists and foreign artists to contribute together to the development of Vietnamese music,” said Lưu Đức Anh. “PASTORAL”, to be held on July 24th 2018 at the Vietnam National Academy of Music, will be Maestoso’s next concert. — VNS