Violist Bui Cong Duy: I am happy with my choice

Monday, 2017-09-18 06:15:59
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Artists perform at the 2017 Vietnam Connection Music.
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NDO – Despite being busy with teaching and performing, Bui Cong Duy successfully organised the 2017 Vietnam Connection Music Festival. He granted an interview to Nhan Dan (The People) Weekly Newspaper to share about how to bring classical music closer to audiences and the training of classical music artists in Vietnam.

Q: You continued to be an organiser of a music festival. Was this year’s Vietnam Connection Music Festival (VNCMF) different from previous years?

A: The 2017 VNCMF took place from August 12-26 in Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. Compared to the two first years, the festival’s content had numerous changes. Specifically, this year’s festival featured different melodies from many countries around Europe. In addition to French and German music night, a gala night was held to introduce pieces by composers from Russia, UK, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia. The works, which were performed in Vietnam for the first time by world famous artists, has rich nuances from various European music schools.

Q: Have there been any positive signals in bringing classical music closer to the public after three seasons of the festival?

A: We have had intimate audiences, but not many. They get used to buying tickets for performances of classical music. However, until now, many audiences think that classical music is free.

Nowadays, the life has changed, so we should change our minds. Although there were only a few sold tickets, those who were willing to spend money on the tickets for classical music performances were real audiences who have a demand for enjoyable music. We need them rather than a classical music hall full of people with complimentary tickets.

Q: Do you believe that is the way to make and nurture a generation of audiences for classical music?

A: In fact, since July, there have been many people asking me when the programme would take place. The festival was an opportunity for Vietnamese audiences to enjoy the diversification of classical music from many countries around the world. However, Vietnamese people have not gotten used to enjoying festivals, because it is a series of shows every night. Only audiences who have a special love for the music can spend a large amount of time enjoying these shows.

The programmes like Vietnam Connection Music Festival need sources of funding from sponsors. Unfortunately, Vietnam has not had a sponsorship culture for classical music. So far, most high-quality activities have been funded by foreign units such as Toyota and Hennessy, however sponsorship activities are very few. In foreign countries, both State and private units join in to sponsor art activities.

Q: There are many people talking about your abandonment of the art environment abroad to return to Vietnam. Can you tell about your choice?

A: I am happy with my choice. I always want to explore and seek something new. So far, I have believed that this was my lucid decision. If I had lived abroad, I would have been just a piano player, but would have not had the opportunity to do many things like now.

The number of Vietnamese artists who can be successful in foreign countries like People’s Artist Dang Thai Son is very few. If all artists chose to stay abroad, Vietnamese classical music cannot develop. Artists should contribute to the country’s music rather than complain the arts environment in Vietnam is not ideal. However, the State should set out specific policies to encourage artists who studied abroad for many years to return to the country.

Q: Your student, Tran Le Quang Tien, has recently won a prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musician. That is a good signal for the training of classical music talents in Vietnam?

A: Tien’s success was only the beginning, and his long way behind is much sharper. Young artists should have the right orientation and strong passion to ‘walk’ on this path. In fact, there are many students who select classical music to study; however many of them gave up this arts form to pursue light music in order to earn a living.
Pursuing classical music is a long and difficult way because becoming a classical music artist requires many attributes. Both teachers and students in this field need to regularly update the changes in the world’s music. Artists have to sacrifice a lot to develop their career.

Q: There is the fact that classical music seems to not be for the poor. Only well-to-do families who can support their children towards joinning competitions or study abroad to develop their career, meanwhile, the sponsorship and support for classical music talent is not popular. What do you think about this?

A: We know that Vietnam’s culture has not received the adequate investment, particularly in classical music. Most families themselves invested in their children’s study and competitions; meanwhile few young people found scholarships to study abroad.

There is lack of a living environment, a useful playground, a cultural environment and venues which can create a core base for classical music artists. Young faces need to have a better environment for the accumulation of knowledge as well as a good behaviour culture. This also explains why Vietnamese classical music is slowly developing.

Thank you very much!

Artist Bui Cong Duy

HANH NGUYEN