Illustration by Trịnh Lập
By Minh Thu
Singer Trọng Tấn and his colleagues Đăng Dương and Việt Hoàn had prepared carefully for Đường Chúng Ta Đi (The Way We Go), a show initially planned for September. With the second wave of COVID-19 now upon us, however, they had to postpone.
Many were looking forward to the show and most seats were sold out as people are fond of their revolutionary and semi-classical music. If the second wave of the pandemic didn’t return [on July 23] after 100 days of no new community infections, it was sure to be a full house.
The artists are also disappointed the show is now in limbo, but understand the circumstances we now live in.
“We are sad but okay, because the concert has just been delayed, not cancelled,” Tấn said. “We expect to hold it in December, when the situation is more stable.”
“December is also a meaningful time, as it’s the 76th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Army. We will play songs of patriotism, glorious victory, and liberty and peace.”
He is concerned, however, over whether divas Thanh Lam and Thu Minh can arrange their calendars and join the concert.
“Originally we were set for September 5 and the two guest singers had confirmed they would join us,” he said. “Both are major artists with busy schedules, so the delay has had an impact on their work.”
“We hope the future will be brighter, as the pandemic has affected a lot of people’s work.”
“I had to cancel 60 per cent of my shows in August and September, which are the ‘peak season’ for singers, with anniversaries such as National Day and the August Revolution.”
“I have only performed live at small shows or recorded in the studio.”
Meritorious Artist Tố Nga daringly released a new album, Trăng (The Moon), in August, at a time when many others had delayed their projects or shows.
She spent eight months preparing for the launch ceremony but sadly had to cancel.
“I spent a lot of time and money on the album, which is the biggest project of the year for me as it’s available on CD, reel-to-reel tape, and vinyl,” Nga said.
“It’s a break-through project, an important hallmark in my career. So, my team and I prepared for the launch but had to cancel.”
“I still released the album without the impressive launch ceremony we had in mind. If I had the chance to perform live, I think I would have more fans.”
She hoped to win over fans both at home and abroad, which is why she invested so much in the sound on her new album. Post-production was done in the US, with support from musician John Barios and the Alexandria Washington DC Studio. She was the first Vietnamese artist in the folk genre to have an album done in the US.
The pandemic hasn’t been all bad news for artists, however. Choreographer Tuyết Minh said the social distancing period gave her more time to create her new work, Ballet Kiều - based on Truyện Kiều (The Tale of Kiều), the 18th-century literary masterpiece by great poet Nguyễn Du. She had just begun the project when COVID-19 first broke out earlier this year.
“During social distancing I was able to work from home, and postponed other projects to take everything slowly and look back over my life, my career, and my relationships,” Minh said.
“I saw people at their best. Solidarity helped Việt Nam win the war over COVID-19. Since then, I have learned more about the law of cause and effect and the moral lessons and humane values in Truyện Kiều.”
She was able to stage one show in Hà Nội and three in Hồ Chí Minh City and expects to bring it back next year.
“All of the shows were sold out, so I’m sure it would be a success post-pandemic,” she said.
“We still practise in twos or threes to prepare for the shows in Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng and Hồ Chí Minh City.”
Singer Tấn agreed that he has more time to create new projects. Apart from practising with the others to prepare for the postponed concert, he also plans to release new albums -- one of romantic songs and another of semi-classical songs and musical and film soundtracks.
“I haven’t released a new album for three years because I’ve been busy teaching music and performing,” he said.
“Many shows have been cancelled or delayed by the pandemic, so I have had time to focus on new creations.”
“I will work with musician Thanh Phương, a master of acoustic instruments, on the new album, and record much-loved songs such as O Sole Mio, Phantom of the Opera, and The Prayer.”
The pandemic has had serious consequences for many people, but it hasn’t hampered artists’ creativity. They accept both the opportunities and the challenges it brings. VNS