The performance of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) on March 4 at Ly Thai To Statue attracted a large number of onlookers, creating a ‘phenomenon’ in the nation’s culture and arts.
As one of the most well-renowned symphony orchestras in the world, the LSO brings together nearly 100 artists from many countries around the world. The LSO performed Vietnam’s national anthem as the opening act of the concert. As the anthem played and the image of the Vietnamese national flag appeared on the big screen, all onlookers gave a standing ovation and sang along, which included even those in front of the big led screens on the pedestrian streets around Hoan Kiem Lake.
The response from the audience seemed to make the orchestra more enthusiastic. In addition to the main arrangements, the LSO introduced two renowned pieces, including the soundtrack of the legendary movie entitled ‘Star Wars’.
Usually, symphony orchestras perform in theatres or at luxurious stages; thereby, the appearance of the LSO in a big concert at a public space created a new experience for the audience, bringing the symphony closer to the public.
The Vietnamese orchestra is still very young compared to the development history of world music, but has still managed to achieve encouraging results. We are very proud of many famous instrumental music pieces reflecting the spirit of generations of Vietnamese people during the cause of national construction and defence. Many foreign artists, including those from countries with strong development in music and the arts, have been very surprised at the contributions of Vietnamese artists in the context of the country facing numerous difficulties.
Japanese conductor Fukumura, who has conducted many symphony orchestras around the world, expressed his appreciation for the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO) along with most of its musicians who studied at the Hanoi Conservatory of Music. He affirmed that if they have more favourable conditions, they will become one of leading orchestras in Asia. The VNSO gave numerous successful concerts at international events including the US, Japan and China; in addition, the orchestra from the Hanoi Conservatory of Music performed at the Asian Music Festival in Tokyo, Japan.
The number of musicians composing instrumental music pieces is less than those composing songs. Since the first symphony entitled “Que huong” (Hometown) composed by artist Hoang Viet in 1960, Vietnam has had thousands of instrumental music works. However, most of them have not been performed, which can lead to the risk of them disappearing all together. Composing a non-profit instrumental musical core is very hard work earning low income; in addition, it is difficult to bring this type of music closer to the public, requiring costly expenditures and meticulous stage performance. Therefore, over the past years, the big orchestras, including the VNSO, the Hanoi Conservatory of Music and Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO), have made efforts to arrange and perform a large number of pieces by well-known artists such as Hoang Viet, Nguyen Van Thuong, Hoang Van, Ca Le Thuan, Trong Bang, Chu Minh and Do Hong Quan.
In recent years, the level of enjoyment of domestic audiences has risen. Many organisations and enterprises as well as arts units and artists have started to pay much attention to investment in symphony programmes, including performances of the classic ballet “Swan Lake” sponsored by MobiFone, the Hennessy Concert sponsored by Audi Vietnam, the Toyota concert put on by Toyota Vietnam and the concert of the LSO hosted by Vietnam Airlines.
Being a free programme, the Luala concert series brought classical music to the streets, bringing the symphony orchestra closer to the public. Regarding ballet and opera, directors and choreographers have tried to Vietnam-ise the world classics in order to help them to be more accessible to audiences. For example, the People’s Artist Le Hung brought numerous details imbued with Vietnamese identity into the Japanese opera ‘Yuzuru’ (Twilight Crane) which was performed at the Hanoi Opera House. Musician Nguyen Cuong has founded the Creative Entertainment Group – the first club for free performances of instrumental music, at 61 Ly Thai To street, Hanoi.
Investment for the development of classical music to enhance the cultural enjoyment of the public requires a prompt and sound vision and policies as well as efforts by composers and performers, in addition to managers, educators and sponsors. Successful investment is expected to contribute to spreading the cultural quintessence of the nation and humanity to the public, particularly among younger generations.