Vietnamese piano virtuoso garners international awards

August 14, 2022 - 08:15
Nguyễn Việt Trung, a laureate of many international music prizes, is dubbed the "Golden Man" of Việt Nam.
PRODIGY: Pianist Nguyễn Việt Trung is a laureate of many international music prizes, who started showing his remarkable talent as a young boy. Photo

by Trần Thị Trường

The Hà Nội Opera House auditorium was full of classical music lovers, Government officials and foreign diplomats living in Việt Nam, and poor children from across the capital city.

The July show Dream Concert might have been one of the most memorable events of the summer and was staged by talented pianist Nguyễn Việt Trung and a group of young artists to raise funds for poor children.

For many years whenever Trung, a laureate of many international music prizes, dubbed the "Golden Man" of Việt Nam, returns and has a show in the home country, he is much admired.

The latest show by Trung and other artists who have affirmed their position in the country and abroad, including violinists Nguyễn Thiện Minh and Hoàng Hồ Khánh Vân, violist Phùng Hoài Thu, and cellist Trần Hồng Nhung, helped collect over VNĐ2 billion for the Fund for Poor Children.

Although the money was not much, it was significant for a classical concert programme and showed how much the audience trusts and loves the artists.

Trung, 25, has studied piano since he was a little boy and has been called "the Golden Boy of the Piano" ever since he won a string of international awards in 2004.

Trung is now in Poland to continue his studies at the Warsaw Conservatory. He is studying at Karol Szymanowski -- a renowned Polish music school for the talented.

He has won many prizes at piano competitions, including the grand prize and first prize at the All-Poland CEA Auditions (2014), the grand prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Việt Nam (2019), and the third prize at the International Piano Competition in Karlovac, Croatia (2019).

Previously, Trung also grasped other numerous awards, including the second prize in a competition for young pianists in Zyrardow, Poland, in 2004 and 2006, the first prize in the Emmy Alberg competition in Lodz in 2005, a special prize in the Chopin competition in Mazowiecki as well as the Golden Note for the best performer of Mozart compositions in 2006, as well as the second prize in the Chopin International Competition for "Chopin for the Youngest" in 2010.

Polish music magazine Twoja Muza has called him "a music star with undeniable piano talent".

FUNDRAISER: Nguyễn Việt Trung (third right) at his latest show Dream Concert at Hà Nội Opera House to raise fund for poor children. Photo courtesy of the artist

The pianist has had many show tours in countries such as Ukraine, Hungary, France, the US, Russia, Poland, Belgium, and Thailand, but he said he always wished to return to the home country of Việt Nam to perform for a domestic audience.

In 2015, Trung and friends from the same school in Poland returned to Việt Nam to perform for a show at an invitation of the Champion Vietnam Media Corporation in collaboration with the National Academy of Music and the HCM City Conservatory. The show left a great impression on the audience.

As a quiet and simple man, the pianist is approachable to talk to because of his sincerity, though it often seems that music 'speaks' for him.

Trung loves Poland, the cradle that raised him in his career, but also deeply misses his native Việt Nam.

"I am always ready to be present when my country needs me. I'm cherishing a dream of returning and teaching music in Việt Nam," he said.

In 1997, when he was six months old, Trung and his parents went to Poland. When he was four years old, his parents had to go to work, so he accompanied his sister to piano lessons and tried to imitate her.

"One day, while my sister was taking a break, I had a chance to take to piano and tried to play a piece of music. The teacher was amazed that she met my parents and advised them to send me to music school," Trung said.

"At first, it was difficult because I didn't know Polish, but everything steadily got easier."

Trung said there were concerts in Poland every week and many famous artists from around the world visit Poland to perform; as a child, he loved attending concerts to listen to their music, which was a very special experience for the young Vietnamese boy.

Trung's parents are also special people. They were not born into musical families but are passionate about music, understand classical music, and especially love their son playing the piano. They have always tried to provide favourable conditions for him to become a pianist.

They would accompany him to concerts and take him to the park every afternoon, where there was a Chopin statue and a musical atmosphere all around.

"Before going to sleep, my mom often turned on Chopin music for both of us to listen to," Trung said.

Great success came to him before he was 20 and brought him and his family boundless excitement. Many call him the "second Đặng Thái Sơn" of Việt Nam.

Everyone knows People's Artist Đặng Thái Sơn, Việt Nam's most acclaimed pianist, who won the first prize in the international Chopin competition to bring glory to the country in 1980.

More than 40 years after that event, the final round of the 18th Chopin International Piano Competition was held last year from October 2-20 in Warsaw, Poland, after being postponed twice due to the COVID pandemic. The 87 finalists were selected from 500 pianists from many countries worldwide, among them Trung was the only finalist from Việt Nam.

However, Trung and his family know how to remain humble and keep their feet on the ground, and the family keeps supporting him to study to become more and more professional.

After living abroad for a long time, the pianist can speak French, English and Polish fluently, but his Vietnamese is also excellent.

"My parents have a rule that we must speak Vietnamese at home," he said.

"Every year, I ask my parents to allow me to return to Việt Nam during my school holiday and take the chance to perform the piano. In Poland, I sometimes also perform to introduce Vietnamese folk music to the people there."

He dreams of becoming a professional artist to "conquer" all classical music-loving audiences in Việt Nam, Poland and worldwide.

VIRTUOSO: Trung performs at the Dream Concert in Hà Nội. Photo courtesy of the artist

Trung has another long-term dream that Việt Nam can have a high-standard classical music school for training artists and an improved academic music environment.

He said: "I would like to have more opportunities to carry out many music exchange activities and projects like what professors at my school in Poland are doing." VNS