Classical music gaining momentum in Vietnam

Thursday, 2017-04-20 11:31:04
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The subscription concert vol.100 on April 14 at the Hanoi Opera House (Credit: VNSO)
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NDO – The Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO) is a State unit of the arts which has been busy in recent times with a large number of concerts. The orchestra has also given the subscription concert vol.100 at the Hanoi Opera House.

Deputy Director of the VNSO Trinh Tung Linh granted an interview to Thoi nay (Present day) publication of Nhan Dan (The People’s) Newspaper on the development of classic music in Vietnam.

Q: This is the 12th year the ‘subscription concerts’ were held. How do you assess their overall efficiency?

A: Actually, this programme has been very effective because the audiences know the orchestra's annual schedule in advance and can choose a time to see performances. This has of course required us to make plans very early and invite guest performers up to half a year earlier. We have already arranged the schedule with foreign conductors for shows in 2018.

This performing model has attracted a larger numbers of people to the performances. In most programmes, around 70% of tickets are sold, including 15%-20% regular clientele. In recent years, the number of people attending the VNSO’s concerts has been relatively stable.

Q: So, have those concerts brought profits to the orchestra?

A: Not yet. It is difficult to create profits right now due to subscription concerts, even in foreign countries. However, they can bring about profit in the future. The Hanoi Opera House has a limited number of seats, so if we want to have profits soon, we have to increase the ticket price. This is a regular activity and there are many intimate audiences who have enjoyed the orchestra’s performances every month, so we cannot raise the fare.

Furthermore, the number of attendees also depends on the season. For example, we have not organised the subscription concert in July because this month is the peak time of the summer vacation and a large number of audiences go on vacation.

Since the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism set out plans to bring high-quality musical programmes into the Hanoi Opera House, the opera house’s managers have supported the orchestra to promote their concerts. However, they have only introduced the programmes on its website and displayed advertising banners around the performing area.

Q: Why has the orchestra changed its performing style? The outdoor concert staged by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) last month attracted a large number of audiences. Meanwhile, in a subscription concert in 2015, the VNSO also played Symphony No.2 by Rachmaninov, however the audience was not as enthusiastic.

A: The LSO’s concert was held at the Ly Thai To Flower Park on the pedestrian streets around Hoan Kiem Lake, so it attracted a large number of pedestrians. However, outdoor programmes like that require the use of speakers, microphones and electronic sound systems, so sound quality cannot compare with concerts in the auditorium.

The VNSO has also organised numerous programmes in different styles such a concert in combination with a flashmob performance in December in front of the Hanoi Opera House, outdoor tours, special concerts and programmes for children. The programmes’ contents and performing styles are very close to many audiences. However, subscription concerts are for a certain number of audiences and space must meet standards for the sound of classical music.

Our audience members give the most accurate remarks in regards to the quality of the concerts. The increasing number of audiences has demonstrated the VNSO’s successes.

Thank you very much!

Initiated in 2005, the subscription concerts have featured well-known symphony works by Vietnamese and foreign composers. There are about 10 programmes each year, with the participation of famous artists in the country and around the world. Currently, the concerts have around 100 regular audience members.

The subscription concert vol.100 on April 14 featured guests: the bugler Premysl Vojta, the trombonist Michael Massong and the trumpeter Martin Griebl, from Germany; and Japanese oboist Maekawa Kosei. The concert was conducted by Honna Tetsuji, the music director of VNSO.

The VNSO, together with foreign artists, performed “Tieng vong” (The Echo) by musician Do Hong Quan and the Symphony No.7 C major, op.60 “LENINGRAD” by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.