Vietnamese tenor pitches for wider audience

May 29, 2022 - 08:47

Western classical music, especially operatic singing, is not a normal career choice for Vietnamese youth today, but tenor Nguyễn Thế Quang Huy plans to familiarise it through creative means. He talks to Thu Ngân.

Western classical music, especially operatic singing, is not a normal career choice for Vietnamese youth today, but tenor Nguyễn Thế Quang Huy plans to familiarise it through creative means. He talks to Thu Ngân.


Nguyễn Thế Quang Huy 

Inner Sanctum: Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Nguyễn Thế Quang Huy. I'm 25 years old, and a classical vocalist who has been pursuing music since 2014. I perform, but I am also a music teacher. Music is my biggest passion, an indispensable part of my life.

Inner Sanctum: What inspired you to learn western classical music?

Born to a family of music lovers, I became interested in music at a very young age. I started learning to play the piano when I was 10. That was just the beginning. Soon, I realised that my true passion was singing.

After graduating from high school, I decided to follow my dream and became a student in the vocal department of the HCM City Conservatory of Music. In addition to my determination and effort, my family has always been a great source of encouragement for me to pursue my passion.

In 2015, during my first year at the conservatory, I was accepted as a collaborator and actor in the choir of the HCM City Symphony, Music and Dance Theatre. The opportunity to work with local and international conductors from Germany, Italy, and France for many years has been a valuable opportunity that has led to more profound musical experiences.

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Inner Sanctum: The recital: 'Thế Huy, a Tenor', was a successful concert in HCM City. Can you tell us more about that experience? Do you have plans for more such programmes?

Those two nights of music were performed in a workspace, which is not the usual space that comes to mind for performing or listening to this kind of music. Doing such things is an extraordinary project that I hope will bring classical music closer to wider audiences.

Implementing the project in a non-traditional space was not without its barriers. Operatic singing in unfamiliar conditions is a challenge, but the desire to experiment and create freshness for this art form and make a different audience enjoy it made it possible.

I always try to do my best from concept to implementation so that the project goes exactly as planned, leaving fond memories in the audience's hearts. I feel pleased and am sincerely grateful to all those who have helped me so much to make such concerts a success. I feel blessed.

I like coming up with new, inspiring ideas to organise meaningful personal concerts. My future programmes will be very diverse in terms of form, audience experience, and content value.

My biggest desire through each project is to contribute to familiarising this type of music in the larger community. I believe that when this happens, the quality of life improves for everyone.

Inner Sanctum: Who is your idol? Have you ever had a chance to perform with them or with another famous artist?

My idol is Jonas Kaufmann -- a leading opera artist today. I admire him because he started with a limited voice, not as gifted as other top artists. His journey of effort, intelligence and flair has inspired me a lot. Certainly, I wish to be able to meet Kaufmann in person one day and say that I admire him very much. That would make me happy; I couldn't even dream of performing with him.

Inner Sanctum: You missed an opportunity to study abroad because of the COVID pandemic. Do you regret it? Will you try again?

I still follow up on opportunities to study abroad with scholarships. I received several scholarship offers, but the pandemic intervened. However, it has not made me falter. Instead, I used it as a morale lever to help me realise opportunities to pursue a career in Việt Nam.

Since then, I have performed regularly in recitals at the conservatory, in individual classical concerts, and collaboration with organisers.

I have projects such as Winter Vibe Live Session, Art&Tech Fusion 2021, and a particularly cherished ticketed show titled Có Điều Gì Neo Mỗi Chúng Ta with conductor Trần Nhật Minh (postponed in 2021 due to COVID-19).

Inner Sanctum: What is your career philosophy?

The elephant in the room for classical musicians is that we are competing against ourselves. I've always been haunted by the prospect of the perfect version of myself. This pushes me to try harder, to get closer, day by day, to that version.

And it also makes me more aware and appreciative of the imperfections in myself and life. The effort put into learning, deepening emotions, and constantly creating are key factors that make up a vocalist's career.

I plan to collect more works and expand my repertoire. At the same time, I hope to have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including international opera houses.

The comparatively slow start to my career has provided me with confidence that I probably wouldn't have had if things had come easier or quicker. I've had to put more effort into my career, which now allows me to take opportunities as they come and the confidence to take a few risks.

Last but not least, I intend to sing for as long as possible.

Inner Sanctum: Why is Western classical music not popular among young people in Việt Nam? How confident are you that your efforts will make a difference?

Western classical music in recent years has not reached many audience members in Việt Nam, especially young people, primarily due to the small number of programmes. Although concerts and operas are held regularly at the opera house or conservatory, these are still not enough.

I think young people are very willing to open their hearts to different kinds of music. As long as they have more access, they will come to love and care more about the genre. This is also the motivation for young artists to be more active in popularising such activities.

Even as I improve my skills in western classical music, I also want to exploit and renew the beauty of the art form in personally creative ways, especially expanding its reach.

I believe that before long, Vietnamese young people will be able to enjoy classical music properly. VNS

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