October was a memorable month for rising musical star Nguyen Ly Huong, who was named the winner of the prestigious Nanning Young International Flute Competition. She talks to Luong Thu Huong about her extensive preparation for the contest.
Nguyen Ly Huong, a fourth-year student at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music, beat 78 other competitors to nab the top spot at the contest in southern China's Nanning City on October 10-13.
Huong's victory, decided in a unanimous judgment by the prestigious panel, is Viet Nam's first-ever win at an international flute competition.
It's especially impressive given that she had only three weeks to prepare.
Inner Sanctum: Contestants normally have six months to one year to prepare for an international competition, but you were informed just three weeks ahead. The content of the competition was very tough: each contestant had to perform five works, including a sonata and concerto, both classical and modern. So what was your goal before entering the competition?
I just considered it a rare opportunity to exchange experience with international friends and improve my professional skills. I also tried my best and utilised the knowledge I have gained in over 13 years at the academy.
Inner Sanctum: How did you prepare for the competition in such a short time?
I spent most of my time training. This took ten to 12 hours a day, often even more. Sometimes my hands hurt so badly that I could not hold my flute and had to take painkillers.
Health is important for flutists, because they have to be strong enough to hold the flute and blow smoothly, so at times I felt worried I would not be able to continue because of the short time and my poor health. However, despite these difficulties, I kept encouraging myself to train hard and not waste any time. Gradually my performance reached the set standard.
My family have always encouraged me. I also feel grateful to my teacher, Nguyen Trung Thanh, as well as Nguyen Trong Bang and many others at the academy, who supported me wholeheartedly during the time I prepared for the competition.
Inner Sanctum: In your opinion, what helped you beat 78 other contestants to nab the top spot at the competition?
Good technique is truly the basic element of success, but for me, technique is just a means to convey the aesthetic aspect of the works. Technique cannot be perfect if it is isolated from music, nuance and the style of the composer. Only when all these factors have been taken into consideration can the work be performed perfectly. With this point of view, I carefully studied the work, composers and musical structures, then performed with passion and ultimately won over the 17-strong jury.
Inner Sanctum: How do you feel as Viet Nam's first flautist to win an international contest?
I feel very happy and honoured. But I still consider it only an initial success. To gain more achievements, I have to continue training and building my skills with my teachers. In the short term, I will prepare for my graduation exams in 2014.
Inner Sanctum: Was the Nanning Young International Competition your most memorable performance?
Yes, it is. It was the first time I ever participated in an international competition with many professional contestants.
Inner Sanctum: What made you want to become a flautist?
When I was young, I was taken to watch a performance of an Austrian orchestra. I felt great admiration for the flautist, and I loved the sound of the flute right when the first tune was played. I felt that the instrument had the colour and emotion of the human singing voice. The performance left a deep impression on me, opening up the dream that I had never thought of before: performing on stage as a musician.
Inner Sanctum: What do you usually think about when you perform?
I focus on trying to transfer my emotions to the audience through music.
Inner Sanctum: Who had the most influence on you?
The person who influenced my artistic path the most is my teacher Nguyen Trung Thanh. He has such profound professional knowledge and great dedication to students. Many generations of students have admired him because he has always enthusiastically passed on his knowledge and experience to them. Each of his lessons offers me an abundance of knowledge about both music and life, which has helped me perfect my performing skills.
Inner Sanctum: What is your future plan?
After graduating from the academy, I want to continue to further my study to get an MA degree so that I can become a better musician. — VNS