[Photo Series] Vietnam Symphonies

In this special Photo Series, the locals and expats are capturing themselves through songs and dances to celebrate the love for music that we have in common despite our differences.
January 05, 2023 | 08:37

What better way to create a connection with others than music? When words fail to voice what's on your mind, music does the job.

Music performance is an integral part of Vietnamese culture. We sing our joy, shout our frustration and choreograph our feelings into songs and dances. Lyrics and melodies, harmony and rhythms, are the ingredients of a pleasant yet powerful mix that no other way of communication can match.

In this special photo series, the locals and expats are capturing themselves through songs and dances. Together they created a "Vietnamese symphony," which celebrates the love for music that we all share, the world over.

The band plays on the rooftop of District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, behind is the city's Landmark 81 symbol ( taken by Nhung Nguyen).
Live music play at a cafe looking out to the Landmark 81 building in HCMC (Photo: Nhung Nguyen)

A single hum "A Oi" can spark endless inspiration for creation as this lullaby is imprinted in Vietnamese children's lives at a very early stage. Hard-working people cheer each other on with songs about the glory of labor. Students show their respect by singing beautiful tributes on the Teacher's Day.

Even the Vietnamese language is often mistaken by foreigners for a series of melodic spoken words. Vietnamese people sings when they are happy, also when they are not. Vietnamese music can be heard for any occasion, even for griefing time!

In traditional rituals, music also play an essential part. Most important ceremonies in a year are led by music, especially in communication with the Higher Power. Proclaimed 20 years ago, musical and dance styles performed at the Vietnamese royal court, which is called Nha Nhac, was even named UNCESCO World's Heritage. Nhac Nhac pays tribute to the gods and kings as well as transmitting knowledge about nature and the universe.

On the first day of the seventh lunar month, there is the annual Kate festival of the Cham people (Phan Rang, Ninh Thuan), always packed with revellers and accompanied by the ubiquitous Raglai music. Often, young people take the main performing roles while the older generations watch with great contentment to learn that their children and grandchilren will maintain and preserve these precious traditions.

[Photo Series] Vietnam Symphonies
Sixth graders of Doan Ket School join Gong music festival (Kon Tum province) (Photo courtesy of Doan Ket School).
young people express themselves Ceremony at Chi Lang parish
Young people express themselves religiously, singing church choral at Chi Lang (Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak).

Also, music has the capacity to create a bond between people, no matter how different we are from each other. Commemorary music in Vietnam is open-minded to foreign influences, even encourage it. Many aspiring and professional musicians come to Vietnam for their big breakthrough for this very reason. Here they find people that prioritize the passion for music, rather than the latest or most popular trends.

how Miss _ Mister HCA 2022 is organized by the Youth Union of Hanoi National College of Education (Tu Tran)
Performance with traditional elements: Ao dai, Non La with modern songs at Show Miss _ Mister 2022 at Hanoi College of Art (Photo: Tu Tran).
young people express themselves show Miss _ Mister HCA 2022 organized by the youth union of Hanoi National College of Arts (Tu Tran)
Vietnamese rock band playing at Show Miss _ Mister 2022 at Hanoi College of Art (Photo: Tu Tran).

Especially in the big cities like Hanoi or HCMC, you will experience the mounting thrills of live music scene. The local audiences appreciate people who are the masters of their crafts.

to learn each other's culture Mezcal Jazz Unit (band from France) performing in conjunction with a Vietnamese Gong band in District 1, HCM Posted on Facebook page Poussières de Vie
French musicians of Mezcal Jazz Unit (band from France) performed with Gong musicians in a music festival in HCMC (Poussières de Vie)

So picking up your instrument and play your music with Vietnamese musicians is precisely the fastest way to learn the culture, right at its core.

to learn each other's culture Mezcal Jazz Unit (band from France) performing in conjunction with a Vietnamese Gong band in District 1, HCM Posted on Facebook page Poussières de Vie
French musicians of Mezcal Jazz Unit (band from France) performed with Gong musicians in a music festival in HCMC (Poussières de Vie)

Although not considered "mainstream," Vietnamese orchestra music has been received much over the past few years, attracting both young players and listeners. There is much to look forward to in this fairly new scene of Vietnamese music, mostly becuase of the dynamic range and versatility.

The musicians are back in the rehearsal hall this week, preparing for a conducting workshop to be held by Olivier Ochanine and the SSO from Thursday to Saturday.
The string musicians of the Sun Symphony Orchestra practice in the rehearsal hall of the National Academy of Music (Photo: Sun Symphony Orchestra).
professional The musicians are back in the rehearsal hall this week, preparing for a conducting workshop to be held by Olivier Ochanine and the SSO from Thursday to Saturday.
The string musicians of the Sun Symphony Orchestra practice in the rehearsal hall of the National Academy of Music (Photo: Sun Symphony Orchestra).
The musicians are back in the rehearsal hall this week, preparing for a conducting workshop to be held by Olivier Ochanine and the SSO from Thursday to Saturday.
The wind musicians of the Sun Symphony Orchestra practice in the rehearsal hall of the National Academy of Music (Photo: Sun Symphony Orchestra).
professional The musicians are back in the rehearsal hall this week, preparing for a conducting workshop to be held by Olivier Ochanine and the SSO from Thursday to Saturday.
The string musicians of the Sun Symphony Orchestra practice in the rehearsal hall of the National Academy of Music (Photo: Sun Symphony Orchestra).

For orchestral musicians, Vietnam isn't typically the first stop on one's bucket list. However, Vietnamese and expatriates seem increasingly interested in what orchestral music has to offer.

Hanoi, the home of outstanding orchestras such as the Sun Symphony Orchestra (SSO), is becoming better known as a destination for this sort of experience. Many world-renowned artists had recently came to Hanoi and brought their beautiful performances to the local audiences.

Guitarist Bokyung Byun played a splendid rendition of the Concierto de Aranjuez, and wowed our audience with two beautiful encores!
Guitarist Bokyung Byun played a splendid rendition of the Concierto de Aranjuez at "DANZAS DEL FUEGO: the Rhythm of the Night"

In the future, perhaps Vietnam will be a much more regular spot on the classical music map for touring artists and orchestral musicians.

[Photo Series] Vietnam Symphonies
"DANZAS DEL FUEGO: the Rhythm of the Night"
- Music Director/Principal Conductor Olivier Ochanine-
Music Director/Principal Conductor Olivier Ochanine
[Photo Series] Vietnam Symphonies
"DANZAS DEL FUEGO: the Rhythm of the Night"
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