Thursday 20 December 2007

From the mountain top

Premiere tonight. If the performance left much to be desired, it was a moving moment for my father as well as for many people in the audience. People in Vietnam are seldom given the chance to hear contemporary music, but it was beyond music. Everyone knew it was a special moment. Shall I say historical?
Combined with this first trip in seventeen years, this concert marks an important date in my life.
The opera house is one of the three that the French built during the colonial times. Another is to be found in Saigon. It reminds more of the theatres I have seen in Vienna or Praha. I believe it was restored not so long ago, for it looked quite new and shiny to me.
Apparently, symphonic concerts are rare. The venue hosts all kind of events there, from plays to pop concerts.
My father did hope a concert such as this one would draw more curiosity from the people. Quite expectedly, no one, save a couple of teachers from the Hanoi music conservatory deigned to show up, using lousy excuse like ‘being too busy’… when they just didn’t want to, or were not interested, which is regrettable, for this rather common self-centered attitude will not help rise the level of music in Vietnam.
Anyway, we were there. I brought my friend Nam, as well as Tiên and his wife - also named An, who took me to the pagodas and the local ceramic manufactures the other day.
I don’t why when it comes to send musicians to musically under-developed countries such as Vietnam, Western nations act haughtily and provide second rates ones. Maybe they think (not so wrongly, I must concede) that since the audience is much less demanding - or less knowledgeable, there is no need to pay some top level musicians for the occasion. Any good technician can do. However I was amused to see that the one who applauded between the movements of the piano concerto was not a Vietnamese but a white man in suit…
The last minute replacement French conductor had no feel for Grieg, Ravel's Bolero nor my father’s music. I don’t know how good the original choice would have been but it was a disappointment for us. 
Fortunately, Rohan De Saram who was the Arditi Quartet cellist did marvels on my father’s concerto. This was one of the persons one would describe as sunny. He appearance on stage was a like a ray of light piercing through a thick grey sky.

My dad talking to the musicians after the rehearsal

Rohan during the last run through of the concert

My father's score

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