A pianist connects Vietnam with the world through music

Pianist, Professor Ton That Triem whose life has been devoted to music has successfully performed in many countries around the world. He continues to nurture and light the Hope Choir - an ensemble consisting of vision-impaired singers in Hanoi, using music to connect friends across five continents.

For many years, at the ceremonies of national holidays of countries around the world, many embassies in Vietnam have invited pianist Ton That Tri and the Hope Choir to perform. At those events, I often saw Jorge Rondon Uzcategui, Venezuelan Ambassador to Vietnam. In the audience, he listened passionately to the music performed by artist Ton That Triem and the Hope Choir. At many performances, the Ambassador even took the stage to sing with the group.

The image of two friends, pianist Ton That Triem playing the piano and Ambassador Jorge Rondon Uzcategui singing made the whole audience feel emotional. The deep, majestic sound of the national anthem and the passionate performance of handicapped children in the Hope Choir under the direction of Triem has connected the Vietnamese people to international friends in friendship and cordiality.

Ton That Triem, has successfully performed in many countries around the world.

Pianist Ton That Triem improvises with his piano at home.

… with fingers imprinted with time on the keys.

Pianist Ton That Triem plays piano for the choir of the vision-impaired young people who
he directly trained to perform at the “Unlimited” art program …

When Ambassador Uzcategui was about to finish his tenure in Vietnam, he went to the “Unlimited Art” program to listen to artist Ton That Triem and the Hope Choir. He was moved enough to explain, “I am an orphan so I sympathize with the difficulties in the lives of young disabled children in Vietnam. When I learned that Triem devoted much of his time to the Hope Choir of 16 vision-impaired children, helping them to stand firm in life with their musical talents, I really appreciated it. I really love the band and became a friend of Triem. Since then whenever international diplomatic events that invite Triem to perform, I always attend. I love the sound of humanity and the positive living inspiration of Triem.”

Triem grew up during the American war. He used to carry his guitar to the central battlefield to perform for the wounded and soldiers. The sound of his guitar encouraged them to fight and overcome the fierce difficulties of war.

Ton That Triem is the only artist to win the title of the best concert pianist at 4 international music competitions: Tchaikovski (Moscow 1990), Glinka (Smolen 1993), Gulaev (1993), Kaliningrad (1994). He is also the only foreign artist who was invited to teach at the Moscow State Institute of Culture (1992-1996).

Later, after many years of living abroad and becoming famous from many international music competitions, Triem always missed his homeland. Returning home, he led the Hope Choir of handicapped music lovers. They have difficult circumstances but have overcome hardships to graduate from the Vietnam National Academy of Music. He has taught them music, culture, foreign languages and also acted as a father to encourage them to become better. Triem has taken the band to successful performances at many of the country’s diplomatic events.

The Hope Choir performed at the National Day Ceremony of the Embassies of the United States, France, Angola, Sweden, Australia and Switzerland, and was honored by the international community. Many ambassadors wrote letters to express their gratitude to Triem. He brought the music connecting Vietnam and international friends home. The Hope Choir has successfully recorded 4 CDs and DVDs of National Anthems from 20 countries around the world. The members of the choir are striving to learn English, cultivate the cultures of other countries to be able to sing and successfully play many difficult tunes. Many ambassadors and prime ministers of the countries after watching the performance came to speak with each member of the Hope Choir.

Triem recalled the memory of Susan Adams, former Senior Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Vietnam, who sent a letter of appreciation to him. In the letter, she expressed her appreciation for the performance by Ton That Triem and the Hope Choir in 2004, which attracted 700 spectators and raised 5,200 US dollars in support of disabled children at Hanoi’s Nguyen Dinh Chieu school. Susan has since passed away and Ton That Triem still keeps that letter as an unforgettable memory.

According to Michael W. Marine, former US Ambassador to Vietnam, the artists in the Hope Choir are all messengers of music and culture. Ton That Triem is working miracles to enhance mutual understanding between countries at all levels through culture and the performing arts. He is a world-class artist and an extraordinary music organizer. Tran Quoc Hoan, the blind artist who was taught by Triem for many years and is always proud of his beloved teacher, said that Triem taught a good choral performance with standards in many different languages.

The music of Ton That Triemcame to the Central battlefield to encourage the Vietnamese people and overcome the fierce difficulties of the war.
Photo taken in 1965, Ton That Triem is on the left. Photo: Files

Pianist Ton That Triem performed at an international concert on French National Day in 1989. Photo: Files

Venezuelan Ambassador to Vietnam Jorge Rondon Uzcategui, joins the performance with
Ton That Triem and vision-impaired young people at the “Unlimited” art program.

Pianist Ton That Triem performed at an international fundraising event to support children with disabilities in 2002 in Hanoi. Photo: Files

He mastered the sound tuning, taught cultural skills to each student, and always accompanied the Hope Choir in performances. The sound of the talented master has resounded all over the world, from Russia, the Ukraine, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands to Italy and Spain. Switzerland and America.

Story: Bich Van – Photos: Cong Dat & Files