Contemporary Vietnamese music and dance highlighted

On May 18 the HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera presents an event in which contemporary Vietnamese music occupies the first half of the program and contemporary Vietnamese dance the second.

Contemporary Vietnamese music and dance highlighted
Conductor Tran Nhat Minh - PHOTO: HBSO

If a city is to truly flourish it must constantly produce new things. This applies to music and dance in the classical tradition as much as to everything else, and HCMC is fortunate to have an orchestra and ballet company prepared to give new works their premieres, and to revive less new ones.

Saturday’s concert begins with “The Triumph” (Khuc Khai Hoan), a piece for orchestra by Trong Dai.

Trong Dai is famous for his soundtracks for “Hanoi Windy Night” (Hanoi dem tro gio) and “My Sister” (Chi toi), but he has also composed many other works, including two symphonies.

“The Triumph” was written to honor the resilience of the Vietnamese people over the ages, maintaining their faith and overcoming all challenges. It was composed in March this year.

Trong Dai, a graduate of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, said he composed “The Triumph” because he wanted people to picture the day-to-day changes in a country that is confronting new opportunities on every hand.

Saturday’s concert has as another of its climaxes a concerto for violin and orchestra by the former head of the Saigon Conservatory, Hoang Cuong, performed by his son.

Hoang Cuong was trained in Germany, Russia and Poland, and won Vietnam Music Association awards for instrumental composition in 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

His Violin Concerto was composed between 2007 and 2010, though he says he had his first ideas for it in the 1960s when he was still a student in Germany.


The concerto is in the usual three movements. The first contains two main subjects, one expressing the urgency of modern life, the other a lyrical theme representing the countryside.

The second movement commemorates the tragic life of Vietnamese emperor Duy Tan, using material from a Hue folk song based on the poem by Ung Binh Thuc Gia Thi.

Duy Tan was emperor of Vietnam from 1907 to 1916. He was sympathetic with the struggle for independence from the French colonialists, and was exiled to Reunion Island by the French when his activities were discovered.

The concerto’s third movement expresses a joyful scene characterized by children’s songs, using the Northern folk style (cheo) and the rhythms of the Central Highlands.

The concerto will be performed by Tuan Cuong Hoang-Augustinok, the composer’s son and currently a member of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra. This performance with the HBSO Orchestra will be the work’s premiere.

Between “The Triumph” and the violin concerto will be two popular songs arranged for symphony orchestra. The soloists will be Pham Duyen Huyen and Pham Trang. This first half of the evening will be conducted by HBSO’s acclaimed conductor Tran Nhat Minh.

After an intermission there will be a revival of the contemporary dance show “Touching the Past”, dealing with the relationship of contemporary youth with the history of the American War in Vietnam.

This, then, will be a patriotic and touching event, and a large audience is confidently expected.

Bradley Winterton

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