An American conductor and his love for Vietnam

August 22, 2006

20:52′ 20/08/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: AM 872489 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này

VietNamNet Bridge – VietNamNet Bridge – Dan Perskins has been invited to conduct many concerts in America and European countries, and has worked for free on many concerts organised by the Vietnam Opera and Ballet Theatre.  

In the words of Pham Hong Hai, Vice Director of Vietnam Opera and Ballet Theatre (VNOB), Dan Perskins has done so as in his heart, he has the love for Vietnam. 

Indeed, Dan Perkins would be “very expensive” for his excellence and knowledge of music.

Currently he is the Dean of the Faculty of Concert at Plymouth State University, music director of New Hampshire Master Chorale. Under his mastery, Plymouth State University Choir has gained a number of successes in performances in America, England, South Africa, and Italy.  

Dan is one of the founders of the Educational Theatre Collaborative. Also, Dan is the pianist of Ruggieri Chamber Soloist Theatre. In his recent trip to Vietnam, Dan talked with the press. 

When did you first come to Vietnam, and how did you begin working with VNOB? 

The first time I came to Vietnam was in 2002 when I led the American Friendship Chorale on a tour. There were 80 members of the choir performing in Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. Mr Pham Hong from VNOB heard our performance in Hanoi and he came and invited me to guide the VNOB Choir and to conduct some concerts performed by the VNOB Symphony Orchestra. But I was not free to do that until May last year. Since then, we have worked together a lot, and I have been to Vietnam six times to work for and to perform with VNOB. I found it very exciting to work with VNOB artists.  

What do you think about the VNOB instrumentalists? 

I have often tried to find good, not very common works that will challenge VNOB instrumentalists. We have been quite successful playing in a witty, passionate and vehement way. I do value the willingness of my Vietnamese colleagues to learn new things in a new style. They are wonderful. 

West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein is being staged in Vietnam for the first time. Could you please tell us more about the composer? Do you have any problems when conducting West Side Story? 

Leonard Bernstein was born in 1918 and died in 1990. He was the most influential composer of American classical music in the second half of the 20th century. He was a composer, conductor, author and music lecturer, and through music, Bernstein tried to express his opinions on political and social issues. West Side Story is often called the Romeo and Juliet of modern times. Many of his works convey strong anti-war messages like Chichester Psalms. That is one of the reasons why I and so many other people love his music. 

The VNOB orchestra and I practiced West Side Story for about three weeks. The work’s rhythm is very challenging and the orchestra has to play it in a Jazz style. Freedom and impromptu playing are necessary for this work. At the beginning I found it a little hard, but after several days, it turned out to be fantastic. What we performed was dubbed “a symphony of dances from West Side Story” by many American music critics. I am satisfied and proud. In January 2007 I will return to Vietnam to work with VNOB on this project again. We also planned to have dancers on the stage while performing the work. I will invite an American choreographer who is working for the Broadway TBA Theatre to come and work with VNOB. 

So what do you think about the country and Vietnamese people after coming here six times? 

I found that my Vietnamese friends are very open-minded, sincere and kind. I am usually surprised about how quickly people make friends with each other. It seems like some friends always have a spare room to welcome you even if you are an American. I love the country. Vietnamese language is hard to pronounce but the sound is beautiful. Vietnam also has a rich culture. Family relations here are important and very close. I think we Americans may learn something from Vietnamese about how to make the family relation closer. 

The first time I worked with VNOB was in a performance of the Vietnamese – American Choir on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Liberation of Saigon. I came with seven other people from an American Chorale, and we worked with the VNOB Choir. We sang together in the hope that the sorrowful past would be forgotten and music would bridge the gap between us. 

(Source: HNM)

One Response to “An American conductor and his love for Vietnam”

  1. quit smoking Says:

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