Vietnamese Music in Exile since 1975 and Musical Life in
Vietnam since Perestroika

 Trn Quang Hải, Paris

 

Abstract

 The exile of some millions of Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon in 1975 gave birth to a new type of music outside of Vietnam. Traditional music has been in regression because of the lack of interest among youngsters. Pop music, on the other hand, is flourishing, especially in the United States, where there is a big concentration of Vietnamese emigrants. Contemporary music in the Western idiom is in its early stages. In Vietnam, pop music has come back since around 1990, with perestroika. Traditional music has also gained in popularity due to the efforts made by the Institute of Musicology (Vin Âm nhc) in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and thanks to a number of festivals organized in main cities.

 Twenty-eight years have gone by since the fall of Saigon. Twenty-five years during which many political, economical, and artistic events have changed the face of the history of humanity in general and that of Vietnamese history in particular. In terms of music, it has only been outside of Vietnam, notably among members of the exile community, that an exceptional development in quantity can be observed. Thousands of new music and video cassettes of pop music, as well as revivals of theater pieces, have been issued by twenty or so producers in America. These producers, who are centered in California (more precisely, in the area of Orange County nicknamed “Little Saigon”) and in Europe (especially in Paris) have flooded the market with cassettes reserved for Vietnamese refugees.

In the framework of this article, the author will offer with some brief information on the musical activities in the Vietnamese community since April 30, 1975, the date of the fall of Saigon and the beginning of the major departure into exile of several hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, as well as some comments on musical life in Vietnam since perestroika.

Four themes will be discussed:

1. The survival of traditional music (Nhc c truyn)
2. The development of new music (
Tân nhc)
3. The beginning of a contemporary western-style music (
Nhc cn đại Tây Phương)
4. Musical life in Vietnam since perestroika.

 

1. The Survival of Traditional Music (nhac co truyen)

 Traditional music has long been treated as a poor parent in relation to westernized music. Before April 1975, at the National Conservatory of music in Saigon, classes of traditional instruments and arts did not attract many students . Professors of traditional music had an inferiority complex in relation to professors of western music.

 The Vietnamese refugees who now live abroad have been generally too busy setting up their new lives to have the time to appreciate the sound of the zither dàn tranh or to attend performances of the revived theater form of hat cai lưong. Children who arrived abroad when they were ten years of age are now 35 years old. They are really quite indifferent towards Vietnamese culture. They hardly speak their native language and prefer listening to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Céline Dion and others, because for them it is the music of their present world.

 Performances of modernized theater hát ci lương, concerts of traditional music are less and less numerous because of lack of spectators. Parents do not encourage children to attend Vietnamese concerts or theater performances , which are boring for youngsters who understand Vietnamese less and less, and tickets are expensive.

 Based in Paris, only Trn Quang Hải and Bch Yến have presented Vietnamese traditional music in France and throughout the world since 1966 at public concerts, school concerts, lectures and lecture recitals at universities and museums, and at international festivals of traditional music. (1) They have given more than 2,700 concerts and have participated in 130 international music festivals in 60 countries. You can find their activities on three websites : www.tranquanghai.net, www.tranquanghai.org, and tranquanghai.phapviet.com .

 Among refugee Vietnamese artists, there are notably three performers or ensembles: Phương Oanh and her Phượng Ca group (“The Phoenix Song”), Hi Ngh Sĩ T Nn (Association of Refugee Artists of Paris) and Qunh Hnh, musician and ethnomusicologist.

 Phương Oanh, ex-teacher of zither at Hoa Sim school in Saigon, arrived in France in 1976. She founded her Phưng Ca ensemble with the intention of simultaneously creating a traditional Vietnamese music school in Europe. She has been able gather together about forty girls and young people who play the 16-stringed zither quite well. Her work has had a favorable echo among the young Vietnamese because the goal of Phương Oanh is to combine Vietnamese traditional music with western harmony to create a kind of westernized music.

 The Association of Refugee Artists of Paris was created in that city in 1986 by Hu Phước, a celebrated renovated theater actor who died in 1998. It has gathered together a number of renowned artists such as Kiu Lê Mai, Hà M Liên, Phương Thanh, Minh Đức, Kim Chi, Minh Thanh, and Hoàng Long. Hu Phước attempted to bring new life to the theatrical arts of South Vietnam and has received support from the Vietnamese community in France.

 Qunh Hnh arrived in France in the late 1980s. In France she was a musician of the 16-stringed zither đàn tranh and the monochord đàn độc huyn. She studied musicology at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and currently she is preparing a Ph.D. thesis in musicology on the Vietnamese monochord. She has taught Vietnamese music and has given concerts in France and Europe.

 In the United States, other artists have been making efforts to preserve Vietnamese traditional music. The flutist Nguyễn Đình Nghĩa and his children arrived in the United States in 1984 and have lived since then in Virginia. They have given concerts at some American universities. Nguyễn Đình Nghĩa, known for his original interpretation of the musical piece “Phng Vũ” (Dance of the Phoenix), pursues his own research in recreating the suspended xylophone trưng and the lithophone đàn đá from stones found in the United States.

 Bích Thun, a famous renovated theater actress, arrived in France in 1983 but since 1985 has spent her time between the United States and France. She has not had success in gathering around her talented artists in exile to form a theater troupe like that in Saigon before the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. She participates from time to time in artistic shows and gives some lessons of sung poetry to Vietnamese music lovers.

 Vit Hùng (deceased in 2001), with the actor Minh Chí co-founder of the theater troupe Hoa Sen, arrived in the United States in 1975 and has organized performances of modernized theater hát ci lưong. Hùng Cường, one of the most famous actors of renovated theater in Saigon, went to the United States in 1982, where he changed fields to pop music. After brief success, he dubbed Chinese movies into Vietnamese and toured around the world to perform for Vietnamese communities. He died in 1998. Dũng Thanh Lâm, a famous actor in Saigon, settled in America after a brief period of success in Paris. Since then he has earned his living with theater. Since early 2000, he has produced several CDs and videos of well-known plays of modernized theater in California and has received growing support from the Vietnamese public.

 La Thoi Tân, much appreciated in Saigon for his acting talent, has played the role of master of ceremonies for different shows in America. He is a refined instrumentalist of traditional Vietnamese music . He also lends his voice to dub some Chinese movies in California. Kim Tuyn, a renowned modernized theater actress, finally stopped performing on stage. She now sings at Vietnamese cabarets and has come to be known as a pop singer for the past ten years.

Other artists from Vietnam such as Hà M Hnh, Thiên Trang, Bích Liu have lead quiet artistic lives.

 L Liên, father of famous artists like Bích Chiêu, Khánh Hà, Tun Ngc and the pop group The Up Tight, arrived in the United States in May of 1975. He participated in shows in America and in Europe. Now he is retired from artistic life and has begun a new life as a songwriter. The actor Xuân Phát is no longer artistically active.

Hương Lan, actor Hu Phước’s daughter, is at the present time one of the most popular actresses among Vietnamese artists outside of Vietnam. She is the best actress of the modernized theater because her voice is the harmonious mixture of the two famous voices of theater, Út Bch Lan and Thanh Nga. Since her arrival in France in 1978, her plans for the theater have not worked out. She then moved to pop music and she has become known as the best pop singer of Vietnamese modern music. She has sung in cabarets and at shows organized for Vietnamese communities in Europe. In 1985 she left France for the United States and became the most demanded artist among the Vietnamese community. She has returned to Vietnam several times since the past five years and performed with Vietnamese artists in Vietnam for video productions .

 Phong Nguyễn, ethnomusicologist and Vietnamese music specialist, received a doctor’s title in musicology after his studies in Paris. He went then to the United States and started as a music researcher and teacher at Kent University (Ohio). He has written articles on Vietnamese music in the Garland Dictionary of Music (1998) and in New Grove’s Dictionary of Music (2001), and he has published books and CDs on Vietnamese music. He created a World Center of Traditional Music together with Terry Miller, a specialist of Southeast Asian music and professor of music at Kent University.

 Two “stars” of modernized theater, Phưng Mai and Thành Được, began by living in Germany as refugees. Phưng Mai, “queen of Chinese style theater Hồ Qung,” had difficulty earning a living, as she looked for performances. She experienced a certain success while singing in cabarets. She then emigrated to the United States to restart her career in Vietnamese show business. In 1995 she went back to Vietnam and collaborated with artists of the country to make video productions on Chinese-style theater, of which she was considered the best actress. After moving move to Germany in 1984, Thành Được made musical tours in Europe, Australia and the United States. In spite of his reputation as an excellent theater actor, he could not obtain the same results among the Vietnamese abroad . After ten years in France, he left Europe for the United States, where he opened a restaurant in San Jose, California, to earn his living, thus definitely leaving the world of theater.

 27 years from now, Vietnamese modernized theater will probably have fallen into oblivion. Traditional music could probably survive longer but to a lower level, because young Vietnamese have turned toward western pop music or the new Vietnamese westernized music.

 

2. The Development of New Music (n nhc)

The departure of many artists from Vietnam in May of 1975 marked the beginning of the development of exile music. This music, characterized by pop songs, can be divided into several themes:

 1. Nostalgia for the country, nostalgia for Saigon (1975–1977) with songs evoking lost memories, such as “Vĩnh Bit Saigon” (Farewell Saigon) by Nam Lc (1976) and “Saigon nim nh không tên” (Saigon, Nostalgia without Name) by Nguyễn Đình Toàn (1977).

2. Resistance and struggle for the reconquest of the country (1978–1981) in songs composed by Phm Duy (“Hát trên đường tm dung” / Songs on the Road of Exile, 1978), songs of struggle by Nguyt Ánh (“Em nh màu c” / I Remember the Colors of the Flag, 1981); “Dưới c phc quc” / Under the Flag of the Reconquest of the Country, 1981), and songs by Vit Dzũng (“Lưu Vong Quc” / Melodies of the Exile, 1980; “Kinh t nn” / Prayers of Refugees, 1981), etc.

3. Description of prisoners’ lives in Vietnam, found in a compilation of 20 songs by Phm Duy based on poems written by Nguyễn Chí Thiên (“Ngc Ca” / Songs of Jail, 1981) and melodies by the poet-musician Hà Thúc Sinh (“Tiếng Hát ti nhc” / The Song of Shame, 1982), etc.

4. Rebirth of prewar songs (1982–1985), with thousands of cassettes recording voices of male singers (Elvis Phương, Duy Quang, Chế Linh) and female singers (Khánh Ly, L Thu, Thanh Thúy, Thanh Tuyn, Hương Lan, Julie Quang) well known to the Vietnamese; these revive memories of the golden age of Saigon.

5. Birth of the Hưng Ca movement (since 1985) gathered around ten young composers, including Hà Thúc Sinh, Nguyễn Hu Nghĩa, Nguyt Ánh, Vit Dzũng, Phan Ni Tn, and Khúc Lan. They have composed new songs on different themes: struggle, resistance, and love, and this movement works to collect and preserve some new songs.

6. Development of “new wave” music and of Chinese serials music (since 1986), with about one hundred cassettes on these kinds of music (“top hit” western songs and music of Hong Kong and Taiwan movies with Vietnamese lyrics).

7. Diffusion of songs composed in Vietnam among Vietnamese communities overseas (since 1997). This new Vietnamese pop music has been developed in Vietnam, and many of its artists have become well known abroad. The overseas Vietnamese are interested in the newly composed songs and the young artists of Vietnam because they like to listen to another musical source and to discover new artistic faces. Vietnamese refugees are allowed to go back to Vietnam on vacation, where they discover new songs and new artists. This contact permits the export of music to foreign countries where the Vietnamese diaspora now lives.

 Among exiled Vietnamese composers, Phạm Duy remains the best-known composer. His songs written before 1975 represent 90% of new cassettes and CDs produced abroad. All singers have had at least one song written by Phạm Duy in their repertoire. His newer songs, written since 1978 on the situation of exile and on life deprived of freedom in Vietnam, have received a good response. Since 1985 he has composed less but rather has written Vietnamese lyrics for western pop songs. In the year 2000, he was allowed to return to Vietnam for one month to see his native country for the first time after 25 years of exile.

Hoàng Thi Thơ (deceased recently) composes less and directs a television program recently intended to Vietnamese in California.

 Lam Phương, a famous South Vietnamese composer, arrived in the United States in 1975, moved to Paris in 1980, then returned to the United States in 1995. He has composed new songs regularly on Saigon with such themes as nostalgia (1975–80) and love (since 1981).

 A few composers like T Công Phng, Vũ Thành An, Linh Phương, Châu Đình An, Lê Dinh have continued to write new songs. Other renowned Vietnamese musicians like Văn Phng (deceased in 1999) Tô Huyn Vân, Ngc Bích (deceased in 2001) , Anh Vit, Hunh Anh, Song Ngc, Trần Văn Trch (deceased in 1994), Xuân Lôi, Xuân Tiến, Trnh Hưng, Phm Mnh Cưong, Nghiêm Phú Phi, and Lê Trng Nguyễn have ended their careers as composers, for all intents and purposes.

 On the other hand, a new generation of young composers has been born abroad. In the United States, Nguyêt Anh (known only since 1980), Việt Dzũng, Châu Đình An, Phan Kiên, Hùynh Công Ánh, and Khúc Lan all belong to the Hưng Ca movement. They have written songs on themes of struggle and resistance: Duy Quang on problems of exile; Lê Uyên Phương (died in 2000) on boat people; Hà Thúc Sinh on penitentiary conditions in Vietnam; and Đức Huy on love. Trnh Nam Sơn has written many songs in Vietnamese and in English. Other young composers include: Nguyễn Hu Nghĩa, Phan Ni Tn, Trng Nghĩa in Canada, Hàn Lê Nhân, Phan Văn Hưng (now in Australia), Lê Khc Thanh Hoài, Ngô Minh Khánh, Bo Trâm (now in Canada), Trang Thanh Trúc (in France), Nguyễn Quyết Thng (in the Netherlands), Hoàng Ngc Tun, Phm Quang Ngc, Cung Đàn Nguyễn S Nam (Australia), and Võ Tá Hân (Singapore). Together, they have all written thousands of new songs on present problems, on their aspirations, on the resistance. Poet-writers such as Hà Thúc Sinh (United States) and Duyên Anh (France, died in 1998) began to compose songs using their own poems.

Many musicians have continued to work thanks to official receptions, tours, and recordings on cassettes (until 1988), then on CDs (since 1990) and laser discs (for karaoke since 1995) and DVDs (since 1999). Of special mention are: Lê Văn Thin, Trung Nghĩa, Hô Xuân Mai, Nghiêm Phú Phi (arrived in the United States in 1984), Đan Th, Ngc Chánh, Lê Văn Khoa, Tùng Giang, Thu H (died in 2000), Phm Vinh, Vô Thường in the United States, Võ Đức Tuyết (died in 1992), Xuân Vĩnh, Trn Vĩnh, Ngô Minh Khánh, Văn Tn Sĩ, and Văn Tn Phát in France. (2)

 Pop groups known in Saigon, such as CBC, Dreamers (children of the composer Phạm Duy), Up Tight (children of the musician L Liên), Crazy Dogs (children of the actor Vit Hùng), Family Love in the United States, and Blue Jet in France continued to play abroad until 1990. New pop groups have been formed by young musicians to answer the needs of cabarets and dances held for Vietnamese in the United States, France, Canada, and Australia.

 Among singers known in Vietnam, Khánh Ly remains a Vietnamese figure of pop songs among the Vietnamese community abroad in spite of less publications in CDs, cassettes, and videos since 1995.She has appeared on all stages in countries where live the exiled Vietnamese. L Thu, Thanh Thúy, Thanh Tuyn, Hương Lan, Julie Quang (the last is now called simply Julie), Khánh Hà are among renowned singers until 1988. Ái Vân, Ha Mi are popular among Vietnamese communities and the young talents such as Như Qunh, Thanh Hà, Dalena, Linda Trang Đài, Mnh Đình are at the present time the most popular singers.

 Many cabarets and nightclubs bear names recalling old Saigon such as “Ritz,” “Saigon Cabaret,” “T Do,” “Queen Bee,” and the “Majestic” in the United States, or “Đêm Màu Hng” and “Las Vegas” in France. All these dancing places attract exiled Vietnamese who look for one moment of distraction to forget difficulties of life through steps of dance. Orchestras, therefore, only play some old and known songs. Few new compositions are included in the repertoire of cabaret singers. Dances like slow, tango, cha-cha-cha, pasodoble, rock, bolero ARE the most favorite ones.

 Several productions houses (Asia, Người Đẹp Bình Dương, Làng Văn, Dim Xưa, Hi Âu, Giáng Ngc, Tú Qunh, Mai Ngc Khanh, Thế Gii Ngh Sĩ, etc…)have appeared in the United States and publish a great number of cassettes and CDs. In Paris there exist three big houses of productions (Thúy Nga Productions are the more known and most productive). The video movies on Vietnamese songs have obtained some success since 1990.

Big shows have progressed since 1986, thanks to shows organized to collect money to help “boat people” and to help Vietnamese in distress in Vietnam, etc.

Since 1990, a tremendous development of CD productions on Vietnamese popsongs from composers living in Vietnam with new Vietnamese popstars like Thanh Lam, Phương Thanh, Lâm Trường, Quang Linh, etc… has invaded the Vietnamese discographic market overseas .

 

3. Beginnings of Western Contemporary Classical Music (Nhc cn đại Tây Phương)

 In addition to the few Vietnamese composers of contemporary music living already for a long time in France such as Nguyn Văn Tường (died in 1996), Nguyễn Thin Đạo , Tôn Tht Tiết ( composer of music for 3 films “Odeur de la papaye verte”, “Cyclo”, “A la verticale de l’été” directed by Trn Anh Hùng), Trương Tăng (died in 1989), Trần Quang Hải, and Cung Tiến in the United States, some young Vietnamese composers have also emerged. In Australia, the guitarist Hoàng Ngc Tun, gold medal winner of the 1978 music festival in Vietnam and author of more than 500 new songs, left Vietnam in 1982 by the sea and received a research grant to prepare his Ph.D. dissertation on Vietnamese folk songs. He wrote some modern arrangements for traditional songs in a new style. Nguyễn Mnh Cường won a composition prize at the Asia Pacific Festival and Composers Conference in December, 1984, in New Zealand on the basis of his composition “Phng Vũ” (The Dance of Phoenix). Since 1985, he has continued to compose electronic music in Sydney (Australia). Lê Tun Hùng obtained his Ph.D. degree in Ethnomusicology at Monash University in Melbourne and has composed new music mixing Vietnamese musical instruments and Western contemporary compositions. He has published 4 CD since 1992. Phan Quang Phc earned a doctorate of music at the University of Michigan and has taught composition at Indiana University (Illinois, USA). He is considered to be one of the six most talented young composers in the United States and won the Prize of Rome in 1998.

Among interpreters of western classical music, the guitarist Trnh Bách is the only one who has reached an international level of performance. Having arrived in New York in 1975 at the age of 13, he is now considered one of the best guitarists in the world. Several excellent young Vietnamese musicians have pursued their studies at conservatories of music in Sydney, Paris and the United States.In 2001, Văn Hùng Cường, a Vietnamese pianist, won the world piano competition organized by the American Music Scholarship Association in New York (USA).

 

4. Musical Life in Vietnam Since Perestroika

Since perestroika policies began there, many foreign tourists have been visiting Vietnam, instigating a new dimension to the musical life of that country. Many hotels and restaurants for tourists hire musicians of traditional music to entertain their new customers. Spectacles of traditional music offer to tourists some aspects of the musical culture of the country. Instead of presenting the authentic music, though, musicians play westernized folk music to please European tastes. Because of the economical necessity, traditional artists have done this for money and have neglected aspects of art and tradition.

 Many groups of artists like Tre Xanh, Ph Đổng have been sent abroad to participate in festivals or to present concerts to the exiled Vietnamese. Inside of the country, though, the emphasis is on pop music, as young singers turn toward the west. They dress like European pop singers on stage, imitate them and sing fashionable foreign songs (Western, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese). Since 1995, many singers namely Thanh Lam, M Linh, Hng Nhung, Hng Hnh, Ánh Tuyết, Thanh Phương, Cm Vân, Lâm Trường, Đan Trường, Quang Linh, etc… have become famous inside and outside of the country. They can earn up to 20,000 US dollars per month with shows and recordings .

 The rebirth of modernized theater (Hát Ci Lương) since 1990 in Ho Chi Minh City and the southern part of Vietnam has enabled young artists like Ngc Huyn, Tài Linh, Vũ Linh, Kim T Long, Ngc Giàu, Bch Tuyết, L Thy, Minh Phng to earn more money and have a better life. A new kind of comic theater (Tâu Hài) appeared at the beginning of the 90’s and has become popular with productions of video cassettes and DVD. Some actors like Bo Quc, Minh Nhí, Thành Lc, Lê Vũ Cu, Hu Châu, etc..; and actresses like Hng Nga, Hng Vân, Ngc Giàu are well known in Vietnam and also among the Vietnamese abroad .

In spite of this disappointing aspect, some excellent festivals of traditional music take place, namely the Lullaby Festival, modernized Theater Festival, Theater Song contest, the Traditional Theater Festival, etc.

 Composers for film music have been more and more after the unification of the country since 1976. Other composers like Trng Bng, Đàm Linh, Hoàng Vân, Đặng Hu Phúc, Trng Đài have contributed to film music in Vietnam. Contemporary music with concertos, symphonies has been developed in Vietnam with some famous composers like Đổ Hng Quan, Nguyn Th Nhung, Hoàng Dương, Hoàng Cường, Nguyễn Phúc Linh, Vũ Nht Tân .

 Compositions for orchestra with traditional musical instruments (16 stringed zither, monochord, moon shaped lute, 2 stringed fiddle, bamboo transverse flute) and Western orchestra occupy an important place in musical creations in Vietnam nowadays .

In Hanoi over the past 30 years, the Institute of Musicology has carried out thousands of field work projects on the tribal music of 53 minorities. In addition to the collection stored in archives from 1956 to 1995, 34 field work projects have been carried out since 1996 throughout the country, from the mountainous regions in the north to the highlands in the central region and some provinces in the south. Stored in the Sound Archives of the Institute of Musicology are 8,850 pieces of instrumental music and nearly 18,000 folksongs performed by more or less 2,000 performers. Since 1995, with revisions in working methods, open and dynamic mechanisms based on the current situation have abolished the passive role of scientific research. The Institute of Musicology now has qualified collaborators in the entire country to carry out projects from the grassroots to the ministry level and up to the national level.

 In January of 1999, this Institute of Musicology opened a showroom of 130 Vietnamese musical instruments from 54 ethnic groups belonging to four categories of classification: chordophones, idiophones, aerophones, and membranophones. Each instrument in the showroom is introduced in printed descriptions and audio and visual recordings. Of particular note, the showroom also displays many ancient musical instruments such as the lithophone, bronze drum, big drum with elephant skin of the Ede ethnic group, sets of gongs, etc. In addition to providing visual education, the displayed objects and musical instruments are also demonstrated in a lively way.

 Thousands of technology products in the form of audio CD, video CD, and videotapes featuring performances on folk music have been released.In addition, the Institute of Musicology has held symposiums and seminars on diverse and practical themes such as the Vietnamese lithophone, gongs of the central highlands of Vietnam, etc. In 1998, the Institute of Musicology held a scientific meeting on “Reviewing a process of training, preserving and promoting Vietnamese traditional music.” More than 30 papers of a high scientific quality were presented. The research department of the Institute of Musicology is well equipped with modern apparatus that can help to restore and preserve traditional music and folk songs on compact discs for the longer and better conservation of sound documents. Thanks to these demonstrations, many scientific books on music and traditional songs have been published. This Institute of Musicology has many young researchers like Hinh Phước Long (Cham music), Dương Bích Hà (traditional music from Central Vietnam), Kiu Tn (traditional music from South Vietnam), Võ Thanh Tùng (Vietnamese musical instruments with a publication of a CD Rom and an important book on that subject), Nông Th Nhình (folk music of the Tày, Nùng, Dao tribes from North Vietnam), Kpa Ylang (Bahnar music from the Highlands) Romah Del (Jarai music from the Highlands)

 In Vietnam, the research on traditional music has been developed rapidly . Many senior reasearchers have contributed to enrich this field with hundreds of publications (books, CD, films). Prof. Nguyn Hu Ba (deceased) Lê Thương (deceased), Lưu Hu Phưc (deceased in 1989), Đắc Nhân, Lê Huy, Huy Trn, Tú Ngc (deceased) Đổ Minh, Vũ Nht Thăng, Đặng Hoành Loan, Thúy Loan, Tô Vũ, L Nht Vũ, etc… are among the best known in Vietnam .

A center of research on the preservation of court music was created in Huê in 1996 thanks to the help of Japan and has been under Prof. Trần Văn Khê’s supervision .

 For the last 7 years (since 1995), many artists of folk theaters and pop singers living in Vietnam have performed abroad at international music festivals or in America, Asia, Australia, and Europe where Vietnamese refugees have settled in . Since 1999, a great number of Vietnamese Oversea artists like Hương Lan, Phưng Mai, Elvis Phương, Hoài Linh, Dalena, etc… have been back to Vietnam many times to perform with other artists in Vietnam. This musical exchange has contributed to facilitate the relationship between Vietnamese artists outside/inside .

 This summary gives a general view on Vietnamese musical life abroad and a short summary of some aspects of musical activities inside the country. Music continues to evolve, but is it towards enrichment or poverty? The answer is not yet known.

 

Notes

(1) Performances for young people have included: Rikskonsertene in Norway, Jeunesses Musicales de France in France, Jeunesses Musicales de Belgique in Belgium, and the Jeunesses Musicales de Suisse in Switzerland. Altogether, Trần and Bch have participated in more than one hundred international music festivals in 50 countries.

(2) Other musicians have changed professions since leaving Vietnam, such as Trần Anh Tun (formerly professor of mandolin at the National Conservatory of Music in Saigon , now a piano tuner in Paris), Trần Vĩnh (formerly a saxophonist, now retired and living outside of Paris ), and Văn Phng (earlier a composer who was employed at an American airlines and who died in 1999).

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