Viet Nam News
The Saigon Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (SPYO) debuted in HCM City with the goal of rejuvenating symphonic music and introducing a musical genre that is not well known or easily accessed by the public. Thu Ngân spoke with Nguyễn Bảo Anh, artistic director of SPYO, about the orchestra and the efforts to revive interest in symphonic music.
Can you tell us something about SPYO? Why is it debuting at this time? What was the main goal for establishing the orchestra?
The Saigon Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (SPYO) was established with the aim of rejuvenating symphonic music and introducing what may be commonly known as a "hard-to-digest" genre to the public and community.
The orchestra targets music lovers aged 18-25, and we hope to encourage young audiences to experiment with and be inspired by different music genres and cultures.
We want to be the common voice for young people in promoting the music and culture of HCM City.
I think the most effective way for Vietnamese youth to easily access symphonic music is for the city to have more musical programmes for the community so young artists can share, introduce and inspire young folks like themselves.
Our mission is to organise performances and welcome international artists and conductors to train and help young artists reach an international professional standard in performances.
We hope the world will know more about Việt Nam through music, so we must create opportunities for future artists to develop their talents beginning now.
SPYO is a dream, a place to nurture, guide and offer huge support for young artists to pursue their passion for the arts properly
What is the proposed performance plan for SPYO? Do you believe its members, who are students and still young, can perform famous symphonies and attract audiences?
In the future, SPYO will not only perform in concert halls, but perform in open spaces such as parks and gardens so the public will have easier access to the music. I hope that SPYO will receive support from the community and get more attention, and that prejudices will be “removed” about this "hard-to-digest" genre of music.
SPYO members will be mentored by active members of the Saigon Philharmonic Orchestra and conductors of regional and international repute. SPYO will delight audience of all ages with performances that will only improve over time.
Major orchestras in the world have the same programmes as what we are doing with SPYO. These are not simply arts performance. They are also educational programmes in which we orient the people to a way of enjoying music, show them musical instruments, and introduce them to how composers work.
Organising performances every Sunday in front of the HCM City’s Municipal Theatre will be meaningful to students. These performances will offer them a chance to study and train with experienced graduates. In addition, the performances will inspire a love for symphonic music among the community.
We believe that the programme, in addition to introducing symphonic music to the community, will help enrich the audiences’ knowledge about this demanding music.
So, to reach the goal, along with the plan of organising performances every week, we will prepare a repertoire that is easier to listen to, so that young people can enjoy.
Why do you think many people in Việt Nam do not listen to symphonic music? Does the orchestra have a plan to change this?
Classical music in Việt Nam has not had a chance to be active and touch our people, and we have not promoted it at all. It is always labelled and described as “complicated”.
Music and arts are gifts from human creation, so our hearing, sensitivity and souls are valued equally, regardless of a person’s race or background.
Yes, it is expensive, of course. It takes a long process to produce a professional musician. Training is even tougher than a doctor or lawyer.
And to consistently practise and perform requires the same standard and passion. The main problem is that we do not have enough professional musicians ready to interpret the true meaning of the world of classical music.
We are not a classical music nation by tradition, but we have imported other art forms like pop, rock and jazz from other cultures.
But for classical music, where can people find it in our society? Not in school (it should be part of education), not in the concert hall, not on TV, not on radio.
I don’t think classical music is something people have to understand to enjoy. In fact, you don’t need to know anything to benefit from classical music. Think of it as our therapy, the chance to check how pure your soul is. It is a tool to practise how to get in touch with or control your feelings.
Music can heal your soul if you let it in. I hope our society will increase attention and support the orchestra as well as all arts and music so we can perform our magic to contribute to a balanced life.
Does SPYO have plans to take Vietnamese music to the world?
Why not? We are preparing them to join the Asian Youth Orchestra, which performs at the highest level and is now 27 years old.
We have already worked on some exchange programmes with other institutions around Asia.
The plan to bring SPYO to the world depends on contributions and care from the community. They will make us proud one day soon. VNS