Songs about beloved Fatherland of Vietnam promoted in France

Sunday, 2019-02-03 08:10:01
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The Homeland Choir’s performance on the occasion of 2015 Lunar New Year
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NDO – Over the past ten years, members of Que Huong (Hometown) Choir have been utterly dedicated to conveying the patriotism and national pride to the community as well as promoting Vietnamese people’s cultural and spiritual identities to French and international friends.

In April 2009, overseas Vietnamese (OVs) in France, who share the same passion for singing and classic Vietnamese songs, decided to form Hometown Choir. It was a meaningful continuation of the singing movement among the OVs in France to support the resistance struggle for national independence in Vietnam during the 1968-1973 period. During that time, the performances offered an opportunity for the OVs to enjoy songs, dances and plays that were imbued with traditional features as well as encouraging patriotism. Therefore, the singing movement in the country had been always imprinted in the minds of generations of OVs in France, especially performances after the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in 1973, the Lunar New Year in 1974 and National Reunification in 1975.

Inherited from her parents who joined the singing movement in the past, Nguyen Ngan Ha, along with several OVs, discussed the formation of troupe, aiming to introduce the image of their homeland to international friends.

Being a leader of the Homeland Choir, Ngan Ha said that the primary idea was just gathering those who love singing and classic Vietnamese songs. At that time, it was difficult to find people who could sing, therefore, the Choir had only 15 members.

Ngan Ha is showing off certificates of merit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to the Choir.

However, up to now, nearly 50 people, including generations of OVs in France and foreigners, have joined the Choir. During the first days after the formation, members practiced singing just to participate in community activities, but then they gradually realised their passion. Despite being busy with work, the members have tried to join training sessions at Ngan Ha’s house or at the Vietnam Cultural Centre in France.

The members have learnt about music together and created a harmony in singing. The warm atmosphere and the cohesion among them have helped the choir to overcome the initial difficulties, said Ngan Ha. Several Vietnamese young people studying in France confessed that, thanks to the Choir, they knew more meaningful and beautiful Vietnamese songs, while international friends had the chance to enjoy melodies imbued with the Vietnamese cultural identity.

Overcoming the first moments when the members were still at fault, members are now more professional, leaving a good impression on the audiences over recent years. In addition to participation in the OVs community’s events, they have performed many big shows to French audiences.

The most memorable memory of the Choir’s members was their performance of the song ‘Nguoi Hanoi’ (Hanoians) along with the UNESCO symphony orchestra in celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi. At the ceremony to mark 30 years of a UNESCO Resolution, which honoured President Ho Chi Minh as a Vietnamese hero of national liberation and great celebrity of culture, the Homeland Choir performed the songs ‘Ca ngoi To quoc’ (In praise of our Fatherland) and ‘Tieng hat giua rung Pac Po’ (The singing in Pac Po forest) as well as two of Uncle Ho’s poems that were set to music by French musician Louis Durey. The performances inspired national pride as well as the love for the country and the beloved leader of Vietnam among the people who are living far from the homeland.

Within the framework of the 23rd International Choral Festival in Paris in early 2017, the Choir promoted Vietnamese songs to the French public. Receiving endless applause from the audiences, each member felt moved and proud.

The Homeland Choir has become increasingly popular among the OVs community and local people in France, attracting more attention and cooperation from several well-known orchestras and choirs in the host country.

The Choir coordinated with Rouen Academy of Music to record the first CD titled ‘To quoc yeu thuong’ (Beloved Fatherland), including ten Vietnamese classical choral songs. They are famous works by revolutionary musicians such as ‘Hoi tuong’ (Remembrance) by Hoang Van, ‘Ca ngoi To quoc’ (Praising the Fatherland) by Ho Bac and ‘Tieng hat nguoi chien si bien thuy’ (The singing voices of border soldiers) by To Hai. In addition, many songs about Vietnam’s seas and islands were transformed into chorus for the choir, such as ‘Luot song ra khoi’ (Surfing to the sea) by The Duong and ‘Tinh em bien ca’ (My love is a boundless sea) by Nguyen Duc Toan.

The Homeland Choir has gone through both successful and difficult times. It has been very hard to maintain the activities because members had their own jobs. Ngan Ha and her husband, Nguyen Tich Ky, encouraged them to try to overcome all difficulties. Therefore, they have become not only leaders but also close friends of the choir. Tich Ky shared that he considers the members as his relatives and took care of them from the smallest things in their lives so that they could be assured, sympathetic and united together for the common mission of preserving and promoting a cultural tradition of the OVs community in France over the past decades. Choral singing has been a unique activity of the Vietnamese people, aiming to spread the patriotism among younger generations.

Ngan Ha and the Homeland Choir’s members are actively preparing performances for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the patriotic OVs movement in France as well as its tenth anniversary in April 2019. Ngan Ha has also set a plan of recording the second CD for the choir that is expected to consist of many songs about President Ho Chi Minh – a great leader of the Vietnamese people.

The Lunar New Year is approaching and the Homeland Choir is also practicing songs praising the country to introduce them to the OVs and French friends.