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Art & Entertainment News 5/10

 More pedestrian streets open in Hanoi Old Quarter; Ao dai fashion show to celebrate Liberation Day; East Sea paintings attract foreigners;Danish musicians impress Hanoians at music festival

More pedestrian streets open in Hanoi Old Quarter

The Hoan Kiem District’s People Committee on October 3 launched six more walking streets to serve tourists’ exploration of Hanoi Old Quarter on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

The streets are Hang Buom, Ma May, Hang Giay, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Ta Hien and Dao Duy Tu streets, which are connected to the existing Hang Dao-Dong Xuan pedestrian road.

The six-street area is famous for many historical relics dating back to the 18 th -19 th century such as the temples of Bach Ma, Quan De and Huong Tuong together with houses of old architecture typical of Hanoi.

Along the streets, performances of traditional music “hat xam” (minstrel songs), “chau van” (spiritual singing), and “ca tru” (ceremonial singing) as well as jazz will be organised.

Last month, the 300m long Hang Buom Street was also made a cuisine street, serving Hanoi traditional confectionery and beverage and some European and Asian dishes to visitors to the night market along the Hang Dao- Dong Xuan route.

Hanoi Old Quarter was listed among the best 95 attractions in the capital in 2014 by the US ’s premier travel website TripAdvisor.

Ao dai fashion show to celebrate Liberation Day

A cultural show will be organised at the Temple of Literature in Ha Noi on October 10 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the capital's Liberation from the French in 1954.

The event, entitled Huong Sac Ha Noi (Ha Noi's Fragrance and Colours), will have art installations, music and fashion shows, which will celebrate the city's tangible and intangible heritage.

The audience will be able to interact with the performing artists and artisans from the villages on the city's outskirts. Craftsmen will display traditional handicraft skills onstage, such as pottery making from Bat Trang Village, paintings from Dong Ho Village and weaving of silk from Van Phuc Village.

Designer Anh Thu will introduce her latest collection of ao dai (traditional long dress) made of Van Phuc silk, which will have decorative patterns such as those on traditional ceramics from Bat Trang Village and the images of beautiful locations in the city.

Models will showcase the designs to the playing of the song Nong Nan Ha Noi (Fragrant Ha Noi), composed by Luu Ha An. The catwalk will be designed as a silk production workshop, with people shown to be weaving and drying silk.

Cuban singer shows off eclectic repertoire at Park Hyatt Saigon

Cuban native Lizbet Ares is the newest entertainer at Park Hyatt Saigon, performing in the Park Lounge.

The 34-year-old vocalist is expected to enchant the lounge's visitors with her renditions in various genres, including Pop, Jazz, Latin and R&B.

Born into a family of performers, Lizbet inherits a beautiful voice from her mother, a singer and dancer. She discovered her artistic talents early on and relentlessly pursued her dream of performing on stage.

After attending the Centro Provincial de la Musica Adolfo Guzman in Havana, the Cuban native went on to become a professional singer at the age of 21. Seeking more experience, she embarked on a journey through Jordan and India, and then performed in Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia before arriving in HCM City.

Book with ‘honest image' of Vietnamese history published

Nha Nam Culture and Media Company and The Gioi (World) Publishers have published a book on Vietnamese history by Dr Le Thanh Khoi.

Lich Su Viet Nam Tu Nguon Goc Den Giua The Ky XX (Viet Nam's History from the Origin to the 20th Century) is a Vietnamese version compiled from two famous French books, Histoire et Civilisation (Paris, 1955) and Histoire du Viet Nam, des Origines a 1858 (Paris, 1982).

The French Institute in Viet Nam said in a release that the two books, which have helped "popularise an honest image about Vietnamese history and culture", are used by universities and institutes not only in France and Viet Nam but also all over the world.

They are also used for reference by leading experts in Viet Nam studies, it said.

To mark the publication of the new book, Nha Nam, the institute and the Institute for Cultural Exchange with France (IDECAF) will organise a seminar at the IDECAF Library, 31 Thai Van Lung Street, HCM City, on October 7.

Translator Nguyen Nghi and researcher Pascal Bourdeaux will be among those taking part in it.

East Sea paintings attract foreigners

A Taiwanese businessman has bought “Giu Bien” (Sea Keeping) of Vietnamese painter Uyen Huy which was displayed at a picture gallery in Ho Chi Minh City from September 19-30.

The painting, worth VND120 million, features the image of the late President Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese naval force who are safeguarding the country’s sea and island.

Giu Bien was created to oppose China’s illegal positioning of Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig in Vietnamese waters.

Previously, an American art historian and photographer Joan Lebold Cohen has also purchased a painting by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Giang Anh to express her support to Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago in the East Sea.

Canon Photomarathon 2014 opens in HCM City

As many as 5,000 amateur and professional photographers are attending a Canon PhotoMarathon 2014 contest which opened at Military Zone 7 Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on October 4.

Addressing the opening ceremony, President and CEO of Canon Marketing Vietnam Nick Yoshida noted this is the first time since its launch the contest has attracted such a huge number of participants.

He added the event aims to create a useful playground for photography lovers to exchange experiences and show their creativity and ability as well as promote the inherent beauty of the country’s land and culture.

The winners of the grand prize will receive a product kit, which includes a camera Canon EOS 6D body and a photo printer Pixma MG7170, along with a nine-day Photo Clinic trip to Japan with other winners from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Cambodia and Thailand.

Additionally the grand prize, winners of each topic will get a number of valuable Canon products, including sets of Canon cameras and photo printers.

Exhibition commemorates 60 years of Hanoi liberation

An exhibition casting the spotlight on the economic, cultural and societal achievements of the capital city over the past 60 years has opened in Hanoi and runs until October 12.

Spanning over 4,000 square metres, the exhibition displays thousands of photos, artefacts, and documents from differing historical periods.

The exhibition would not have been possible, absent the active support of the city’s units, agencies and departments said Nguyen The Thao, Chairman of the city People's Committee.

Speaking at the exhibition, Thao said in commemoration of the glorious military and civilian’s achievements over the 60 years since liberation the city is carrying out a wide range and number of activities.

Hoang Sa, Truong Sa exhibition opens in HCM city

Over 250 documents, maps, photographs and objects are on display at an exhibition launched in Ho Chi Minh City on October 3.

The exhibits, collected by the Naval Brigade 125, the Vietnam News Agency, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and a number of local organisations, are grouped into three main topics on Vietnam’s sovereignty over sea and island. They are Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in maps, protecting Vietnamese sea and island sovereignty, and Hoang Sa and Truong Sa today.

The exhibition features numerous ancient maps produced in Vietnam and abroad affirming that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belong to Vietnam.

In addition, they prove that Vietnamese governments in the past fully exercised their sovereignty and sovereign rights over a long and continuous period.

The event expresses the gratitude for many generations of the Vietnamese as well as soldiers who guard the nation’s sovereignty.

Nguyen-era royal documents useful for conservation work

The vast archive of administrative documents of the Nguyen Dynasty, many of them bearing the seal and handwritings by the Nguyen kings, will be very useful for the conservation and restoration of World Heritage royal relics in the ancient imperial city of Hue, an expert told the Vietnam News Agency.

The collection of royal documents, recognised as documentary heritage of the Memory of the World Programme in Asia-Pacific by UNESCO in May this year, is an invaluable source for studying the history and culture of the feudal court's activities as well as Vietnam society in the 19th and 20th centuries, said Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre.

According to the scholar, in the documents, there must be details on royal rituals such as Nam Giao and Xa Tac, architecture and decorations in palaces as well as music and dances performed at the royal court. These records would help researchers and conservationists in restoring damaged architecture and reviving lost traditions and performances, he said.

Hai said it would be more meaningful and useful if the documents, which are being stored at National Archives Centre I in Hanoi, can be kept in Hue, the place where they were signed, so that they can be studied and put on display in their context. This would also help draw more visitors to the ancient capital.

He said the documents gave a comprehensive picture of the Vietnamese society under the Nguyen Dynasty which lasted 143 years from 1802 to 1945, from political, diplomatic and military affairs to socio-economic and cultural issues. A large part of the archive was damaged during wartime, he said, adding that the surviving documents are now preserved and classified using modern methods, better serving scientific research.

Besides the royal documents, UNESCO has also recognised three items of Vietnam as documentary heritage. They are the wooden printing blocks also dating from the Nguyen Dynasty, the Buddhism wooden printing blocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City and 82 steles honouring doctors at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.

Danish musicians impress Hanoians at music festival

Danish rock band Carpark North and DJ duo Lulu Rouge made a strong impression on Hanoians on the opening night of the Monsoon International Music Festival on October 2.

During a two-hour performance at the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Carpark North won over the Vietnamese audience with its contemporary electro-rock. Lau Hojen, the lead singer of Carpark North, said his band’s performances aimed to stir its audiences’ emotions.

The Vietnamese-Danish music exchange is expected to strengthen the friendship between the two countries and promote cultural exchanges.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Danish Ambassador to Vietnam John Nielsen said that Vietnam and Denmark developed numerous cultural programmes over the years, with the festival being just one example of the fruitful cooperation.

“It’s very helpful and acts a cultural bridge of understanding between the two countries,” the ambassador said. “Actually, what we are doing is to try to help Vietnamese artists go to Denmark and Danish artists to come to Vietnam . We will continue to support this.”

The diplomat also said through the cultural event, Denmark calls on the community to join hands in efforts to protect the environment and respond to climate change, since Denmark is an important strategic partner for Vietnam .

“On climate change, we are doing a lot and are working with the Government in Quang Nam and Hanoi,” he said. “We will continue this work because Vietnam is one of the countries most likely to be affected by climate change.”

The Monsoon International Music Festival, the first of its kind, attracts the participation of a large number of Vietnamese artists along with musicians from the UK, Belgium, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

It will end on October 4, and is to be held annually for audiences in Hanoi and the country at large.

Hanoi’s West Lake seeks national attraction status

West Lake, an iconic landmark in the heart of Hanoi, is seeking recognition as a national scenic attraction, a workshop in Hanoi revealed on October 2.

As Hanoi’s largest freshwater lake, West Lake has a circumference of 17km and is home to numerous historical sites of interest, including Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Vietnam, and Tran Vu temple, one of the four sacred temples in the ancient capital.

The lake attracts locals and tourists alike who seek respite from the busy city, providing a sanctuary of natural beauty with plenty of quiet spots in the surrounding gardens.

The area boasts a number of architectural highlights, in addition to restaurants, entertainment venues, high-end hotels and craft villages.

The workshop featured dozens of speeches by scientists and managers, giving an in-depth insight into the lake’s natural features, climate and ecosystem. The participants brainstormed ideas for conserving the value of the lake in future, especially with support from members of the public.

Recognition as a national scenic attraction is in line with the socio-economic and cultural development of Hanoi and Tay Ho district in particular, Prof. Vu Hoan said, adding that a number of policy recommendations for planning and management were also put forward during the event.

The actual creation of West Lake remains a mystery, though according to a legend it was formed after a battle between King Lac Long Quan and a nine-tail fox spirit, which is why the lake was once called “ Dam Xac Cao ” (Fox Corpse Swamp).

Another folktale refers to the lake as “ Ho Trau Vang ” (Golden Buffalo Lake) because it was created by the struggle of a buffalo after the disappearance of her calf.

UEH imports books from Harvard Univ. for training program

The University of Economics HCMC (UEH) will translate two popular books Principles of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics by Gregory N. Mankiw published by U.S.-based Cengage Learning into Vietnamese for use at the university’s training curriculum.

Gregory N. Mankiw is an economic professor at Harvard University. He was known as the 25th most influential economist in the world in 2011 and used to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush.

UEH will use these two books for its educational training program right from this month. The textbooks will then be used widely for economics students next year. There are 15 more books by foreign publishers to be translated for official training programs at UEH.

Principles of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics were translated into Vietnamese by 16 translators who are economic experts and lecturers and were edited and printed in Singapore. Local publisher Fahasa imported and released the books in Vietnam. Cengage Learning approved for UEH to translate and use these books with free copyrights, except strict regulations on intellectual properties.

According to PhD. Nguyen Trong Hoai, vice president of UEH, the import of these valuable academic books aims to create the connection with foreign universities’ education programs. This is also a basic change to prepare the human resources for the country’s integration into the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

Larry Berman shares thoughts on Perfect Spy X6 and new projects

Larry Berman, an American professor of history and author of the bestseller book Perfect Spy X6, on his business trip back to Vietnam told the Daily his new project, the making of a TV series about local legendary spy/major general Pham Xuan An and an updated version of Perfect Spy X6 in Vietnamese version.

This is Berman’s 54th or 55th trip back to Vietnam for the past 14 years since the first days he accidentally met Pham Xuan An at a dinner in HCMC and found aspiration in writing about the double life of the legendary spy who was also reporter for Time and Reuters during the Vietnam War.

Compared to the first book released in 1997, the new edition of Perfect Spy X6 was translated word-to-word “almost exactly to the English one.”

“For the first time Vietnamese readers have a chance to read what Pham Xuan An really told me and what was missing in the first version,” said Berman. It has new materials, letters and articles from members of the H63 intelligence network with a brand new introduction of 30 pages by Berman and new pictures as well. Especially, a personal letter from Pham Xuan An’s wife, Thu Nhan, sent to Larry Berman was also published.

“An wanted me to write about him as he wanted an American to tell his story and I’m an American historian. And he knew that historians like me could say things about him and Vietnam that Vietnamese journalists could not. There were two books by Vietnamese journalists before mine, but those books were written by journalists who couldn’t say certain things An had said,” he added.

“When my book was first published in the U.S., many Americans read it and they got very angry. They got angry because they thought that I chose to write about An too nicely, too kindly. These people said that An should be responsible for the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of Americans and journalists as his friends,” said the historian.

“Many critics said that Larry Berman is a communist and he writes this book from the eyes of a Vietnamese not from an American’s. But I said that An didn’t betray his friends. And I’m a professional historian who does my job by telling the story.”     

Asked if there would be another book about Pham Xuan An in the future, Berman said: “I have to say that there will be no more books about An as there are lots of new materials with different angles in this updated version.”

Berman also shows his happiness to see his English and Vietnamese books about Pham Xuan An to be sold everywhere in Vietnam so people can buy both versions and have their own judgments. Berman is working on a book about Colonel Tu Cang (born Nguyen Van Tau), head of the H63 intelligence network and also a comrade of Pham Xuan An.

During this trip to Vietnam, Berman also had talks with local veteran scriptwriter Pham Thuy Nhan as an advisor to the making of a 30-episode TV drama with the total budget of US$1 million about Pham Xuan An. The series which is conducted by HCMC-based Cat Tien Sa Company is expected to be released on September 2, 2015. The movie is about An’s love to the country, his wife and family as well as a girl friend in California during his two years studying journalism.

Berman, himself, also aims to turn the incredible life of An into a Hollywood feature film, unfortunately he hasn’t found the investors yet.

In this trip back to Vietnam, Berman had meetings with students at the Hanoi National University as well as those who are going to study abroad in the U.S. Looking at these young people, it reminds Berman the images of An and An’s oldest son, Pham Xuan Hoang An, who also studied in the U.S. and came back to Vietnam to contribute to the country. Hoang An, born in 1983, had two years studying at North Carolina University before receiving a Fulbright scholarship to learn at Duke University.





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