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Opera singer nurtures love for classical music among young Vietnamese

Thursday, March 28, 2019, 20:16 GMT+7
Opera singer nurtures love for classical music among young Vietnamese
Opera singer Nguyen Khanh Trang performs at the 'Concert for the Youth' show on March 23, 2019 at the Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory of Music. Photo: Do Duong / Tuoi Tre

In a country where an appreciation for classical music is being rapidly supplanted by a desire for modern tunes, one Vietnamese woman has spent the last 15 years working to reignite a love for traditional songs by hosting special classical music concerts produced specifically for the local youth.

Nguyen Thuy Uyen, an opera singer and piano instructor at the Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory of Music, recently celebrated her 15th year producing Concert for the Youth, a classical music program designed specifically for young people.

As part of the program, the young are invited to attend Uyen’s performances and participate in a discussion after the show during which she offered additional insights into classical music.

Educating the youth

Uyen first began the program by hosting a show named Favored Classical Tunes in April 2004, before she renamed it Concert for the Youth in 2013.

So far, the passionate opera artist has held over 50 shows in front of thousands of guests who she hopes have been inspired by her music.

On March 23, Uyen organized a special concert to mark the 15th anniversary of the program.

“Among all of you must be many who are here in the concert hall of the Conservatory of Music for the first time and many others who have been to much more luxurious concerts, but please remember that this show is for the young, those who are studying, and those who want to learn more about classical music,” Uyen said as she opened the show.

According to Uyen, the concert’s main aim was to break down some of the barriers that keep people from garnering an appreciation for classical music. 

For example, many find classical music to be ‘inapproachable’ because it is considered formal, serious, and ‘luxurious'. Another common complaint is the length of each piece.

To break down these barriers, the program Uyen designed for the show consisted of short musical extracts ranging from four to six minutes, broken up by different activities and presentations about the genre in order to keep the audience involved and attentive.

Nguyen Thuy Uyen. Photo: Do Duong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Thuy Uyen. Photo: Do Duong / Tuoi Tre

Various activities

One particular activity that seemed to capture the audience’s attention involved Uyen working with them to have them clapping the melody to one of Mozart’s symphonies. 

Afterward, she played the same symphony on the piano in order for them to understand the essence of a composed piece and the core of melody of the symphony.

Another feature of the show which particularly interested audience members was the passion of the performers, particularly that of opera singer Khanh Trang, whose voice filled the entire room, indulging the audience in her emotion-filled ballads.

Uyen attributes the success of her program to its focus on providing the young audience with what they truly need – inspiration.

“At any stage of studying, attaining knowledge is not always good. The most important thing is to keep the motivation alive,” she added, explaining that “the best tools for this would be energy from the emotions and music.”

Looking back on the 15 years Uyen has spent hosting Concert for the Youth, the opera artist is grateful for her dedicated colleagues, particularly Tran Nhu Vinh Lac, guitar lecturer Nguyen Thi Phuong Thu, classical guitarist Nguyen Thanh Huy, oboe artist Dang Phu Vinh, and opera singer Nguyen Khanh Trang.

Over the years, each performer has put aside their personal obligations to make time to practice and create fantastic shows in support of the project.

“This is because they, like me, have dedicated their whole hearts to music,” Uyen said.

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