Breaths of fresh air in Vietnamese music

February 12, 2017 - 09:00

Huyền Trang, in her early twenties now, is already an accomplished artist, familiar to music lovers in Việt Nam. She’s also won some acclaim abroad as one of the first Vietnamese flutists to perform on stage with a combination of flute and electronic music.

For Huyền Trang, the flute became part of her life.— Photos courtesy of Trang

by Bạch Liên

Viet Nam News

When she was only 11, Huyền Trang left her family in Hải Dương City to go to Hà Nội and begin her studies at the Vietnam National Academy of Music.

Making music was the only thing she wanted to, even as a child. Today, she is thankful that her parents always encouraged her to pursue her passion.

However, when she arrived at the academy, she only knew of the piano and violin, and aimed to study both. Her affinity for the flute was predestined, she thinks.

 “I told my teacher that I wanted to learn those two instruments. However, after some hours of testing my skills, he said I could become a talented flutist if I learned it, and that I would have many opportunities to go abroad for performances. He said that it is a very beautiful instrument, and the girls who hold the flutes in an orchestra look like queens,” Trang recalls.

She decided to take his teacher at his word, and feels fate was playing its hand.

“When there is the right moment, the right person, the two will meet and love.  I became attached to the flute from that moment. And the more I learn it, the more I love it. And now the flute is part of my life.”

Her passion and focus have served her well. In her early twenties now, she is already an accomplished artist, familiar to music lovers in Việt Nam. She’s also won some acclaim abroad as one of the first Vietnamese flutists to perform on stage with a combination of flute and electronic music.

In 2015 she took part in Asia’s Got Talent in Singapore. Her performance with the flute earned praise from multiple Grammy-winning musician David Foster, a judge on the show.

She impressed music lovers at this contest by fusing two kinds of flutes – the traditional mèo bamboo flute of the Mông ethnic group and the Western flute – in her performance.

The artist, who describes herself as “a flutist who plays all genres of music” on her Facebook page won 4 “yeses” from the show’s judges after delivering a piece combining the northern Vietnamese folk song Inh Lả Ơi and Imagine Dragon’s hit Radioactive.

“I’ve seen a thousand flute players, but I don’t see any of them that look like you and can play those wooden instruments the way you played them,” David Foster said after Trang’s performance. “The tone was just magnificent.”

Previously, in 2013, she was selected to the finals of Vietnam’s Got Talent contest. In the semi-final round, she wowed the audience with her performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, combining flute and beat-box rhythms played by an orchestra led by musician Duc Tri and a DJ.

In several of her music videos , Trang has thrilled listeners with strange but catchy melodies played with the mèo and Western flutes combined with EDM beats.

Trang has always looked to use her 12-year training in classical music at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music to experiment with different genres.

Trang has brought her melodies closer to the people by covering the hits of famous local singers or famous pieces like See You Again from the 2015 blockbuster ‘Fast and Furious 7’ and Armin Van Buuren’s Grammy-nominated This Is What It Feels Like.

“You are an amazing talent Huyền Trang!  Good for you for getting such a great ensemble together. I just posted a youtube of See You Again too!,” wrote Alexi Muzic of Chicago after watching her video on Youtube.


Trang has also worked with young DJs to remix familiar songs in order to acquaint listeners with her instrument. Those who follow Trang have seen her experiment with the flute to play rock and EDM pieces. She has worked with producer Slim V to combine Western and Vietnamese flutes in electronic pieces.

The young flutist has also performed with different orchestras in Việt Nam and abroad, including the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra, the Southeast Asian Youth Orchestra and Wind Ensemble (SAYOWE), and the Southeast Asia Youth Chamber Orchestra (Seayco).

First album

At the end of last year, she released her first album based on her experiments.

In it, she plays seven internationally well-known Christmas songs with her flutes, conveying profound feelings of happiness, peace, nostalgia, and dreams.

The album is a collaboration with DJ Slim V (Cao Vịnh) (who is also the producer).

This album marks the beginning of Trang’s career as an independent artist.

Since her childhood, she has nurtured a dream about a warm Christmas. Having lived away from her family since she was 11, she craved being with them, receiving Christmas gifts. 

But it was another reason that pushed her to make the album.

“In a recent trip to Europe in the summer, my friends and I had an opportunity to meet and work with musicians, singers from Germany. I was very surprised with one of their questions: Does Viet Nam also celebrate Christmas? They didn’t know that Vietnamese people are familiar with the Christmas ambiance and songs.  

“This motivated me to make an album about Christmas”.

Recently, Trang received some good news: Germany’s recording studio Pro2 Scope, a working partner, decided to buy 1.000 copies of her album to sell in Germany.

‘It’s great when Vietnamese musical products get great support from international friends”

“It proves that Vietnamese music is not less beautiful than the music of other countries. It is a great motivation for me.”

Speaking about the creativity of the younger generation like Trang, local musician Đức Trí once said he felt happy for them and even happier for the country’s music scene.

“Music is not only singing. Now is the time for young people to be motivated to learn traditional musical instruments,” Trí said.

Trang needs no second motivation: “We only live once, so the fact of being able to live and pursue one’s passion is real happiness.” VNS