Composer Duong Thu will perform in concert at the Ha Noi Opera House on November 9-10 to narrate his stories through music.
The concerts, entitled My Narratives, will mark the first time in a career that has lasted 50 years that the veteran composer has put together his own live show, following those in 1999, 2005 and 2010, in which he was a featured composer.
"This time I have been able to prepare everything in the concert with my own ideas," said Thu. "Through my musical narratives, I want to convey the message that life is hardship but we should live with love."
Nineteen of Thu's favourite songs, some never before performed on stage, will be sung in the concert by such A-list stars as Thanh Lam, Hong Nhung and My Linh.
"Most of the singers in the concert are female because of their mezzo voices, which is suited to my compositions," said Thu.
Two male singers, Trong Tan and Tung Duong, would perform due to their romantic voices, he added.
Many of the songs were hits in the 1990s and will be performed with their original arrangements.
"We don't want to update the songs because updating doesn't always mean making them better," said musician and producer Anh Quan. "Duong Thu is a musical perfectionist, so his music requires great effort from musicians and performers."
Having lived in HCM City for about 35 years, the concerts are a chance for the composer to return to Ha Noi, which he left at a young age. The songs Mong Ve Ha Noi (Wishing to Return to Ha Noi) and Tim Em 36 Pho Phuong Ha Noi (Looking for You in Ha Noi's Old Quarter) will be among the four songs in the programme about Ha Noi.
Thu was born into a landowning family in 1943, but his family was scattered and he did many jobs before becoming a composer. He graduated from the Ha Noi Teacher Training College's literature department in 1965 and, after teaching high school, taught in the Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts College's theoretics department.
But he was never far from music. His first song Nho Lang Xua (Miss Old Village) was written when he was 19 and the song was broadcast on Radio the Voice of Viet Nam in 1962. Thu went on to graduate from the Viet Nam National Academy of Music in 1969.
Thu lived in Ha Noi until 1977. After he moved to HCM City, his songs became more popular and turned up in the sets of bands like Summer Band, Experiment Music Club and Spring Club. By the 1990s, many his songs had been performed by popular singers including Hong Nhung, who was the most successful singer associated with Thu's songs.
"I sing songs by Duong Thu naturally, with all my life experience," said Nhung. "His songs are suited to me because I don't sing with technique."
Thu, along with Pho Duc Phuong, Nguyen Cuong and Tran Tien, is regarded as one of the four songwriters to have made the greatest contributions to Vietnamese popular music in the last 25 years.
"Words are used by Duong Thu as musical notes," said musicologist Tran Quang Hai. "The harmony of words and notes in his songs has inspired people. His lyrics are not exaggerated, and music resounds from his narratives."
The My Narratives concert will begin each night at 8pm. A 50-minute preshow at 7pm will be a chance for concertgoers to meet and speak with Thu and the performers.