Uniting Vietnam and Mongolia Through Music

Two Vietnamese bamboo musical instruments are being display at the Ho Chi Minh Traditional Room at the experimental school No.14, named after President Ho Chi Minh, in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

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Musical Connecting Vietnam, Mongolia Friendship
Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam Thi Pham plays T’rung in front of teachers and students at school. Photo: Embassy of Vietnam in Mongolia

On the occasion of the commencement of the new academic year 2022-2023, a delegation from the Vietnamese Embassy in Mongolia, under the leadership of Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam, paid a visit to Experimental School No.14, named after President Ho Chi Minh. During the visit, the delegation presented two dan T’rung (bamboo xylophones) to the school. These instruments are dearly cherished by both teachers and students, who have expressed a strong desire to incorporate them into the curriculum.

T’rung is a musical instrument that holds great significance in the spiritual lives of ethnic minority communities in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. This instrument is made up of multiple bamboo pipes, with one end closed and the other end crossed.

The artist uses two bamboo or wooden bats to tap on the pipes when performing. In the past, locals would play T’rung for entertainment after hard-working days or to prevent wild animals from harming their crops. Nowadays, T’rung has gained worldwide fame for its exhilarating melodies that evoke the breath of pristine nature.

In the highly anticipated ambiance of teachers and students, Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam proudly presented the T’rung instrument of the Central Highlands people. This musical instrument holds a significant place in the rich collection of ethnic instruments of the Vietnamese population. From its historical, cultural, spiritual, and sacred significance, to its inception, playing technique, structure, and manufacturing process, the T’rung showcases a captivating instrument in front of the school’s esteemed educators and learners.

Immediately after providing assembly instructions, Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam demonstrated and performed with great expertise, captivating the teachers and students with the captivating sound of the T’rung instrument.

Principal E.Gungaajav expressed his delight at the chance to witness the instrument firsthand and experience the melodic tones reminiscent of a babbling brook. “The sound is pure, uplifting, and provides a rare sense of serenity and happiness to its listeners!”

Musical Connecting Vietnam, Mongolia Friendship
Conductor Dong Quang Vinh and some members of Suc Song Moi Bamboo Ensemble take souvenir photo with Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam and his wife. Photo: Embassy of Vietnam in Mongolia

Teachers and students eagerly lined up to have the opportunity to play T’rung firsthand. Many of them volunteered to be T’rung players in the school’s student band.

The principal expressed sincere gratitude to the ambassador, acknowledging that this serves as a remarkable and tangible demonstration of the strong connection between the two cultures and their people, particularly the youth.

He promised to carefully preserve and protect the two guitars, while also expressing hope that the embassy would continue to provide attention and support for the collection of other traditional Vietnamese musical instruments.

The principal expressed a desire for the embassy’s assistance in showcasing and establishing a band at the school. This band should be able to play T’rung, perform in Ao Dai attire, and incorporate the morin khuur, Mongolia’s national instrument. Through this collaboration, the music will symbolize the friendship, peace, and cultural blend between Vietnam and Mongolia, resonating across the green steppe country.

Two Vietnamese bamboo musical instruments are on display at the Ho Chi Minh Traditional Room at Experimental School No. 14.

Musical Connecting Vietnam, Mongolia Friendship
Music performance by Suc Song Moi Bamboo Ensemble in Ulaanbaatar. Source: baoquocte.vn

These two T’rung were presented to the school by conductor Dong Quang Vinh and Suc Song Moi Bamboo Ensemble after a performance in Mongolia on the occasion of the 77th Anniversary of Vietnam’s National Day by the Vietnamese Embassy in Mongolia.

With a unique blend of talent in conducting orchestras and expertly playing both eastern and western musical instruments, this young conductor, born in 1984, has been recognized as a “messenger,” bridging Vietnamese and international music.

With the goal of bringing national music to a global audience and making academic music more accessible to the Vietnamese public, Vinh established the “Suc song moi” (New Vitality) orchestra. This unique orchestra is dedicated to performing symphony music using traditional bamboo musical instruments of Vietnam.

Musical Connecting Vietnam, Mongolia Friendship
Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam speaks at the opening ceremony of the new school year at the School No. 14 named after President Ho Chi Minh. Photo: Embassy of Vietnam in Mongolia

Previously, Ambassador Doan Khanh Tam attended the opening ceremony of the new school year on September 1 and delivered a congratulatory speech to teachers and students of School 14.

The President Ho Chi Minh School is one of the pioneering high schools in Ulan Bator. It holds a significant historical importance as it was named in honor of President Ho Chi Minh on May 14th, 1980, to commemorate his 90th birthday. This decision was made by the Central Committee of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party. Notably, the school has played a crucial role in nurturing and shaping the future leaders of Mongolia, as many senior Mongolian leaders have graduated from this esteemed institution.

Hannah Nguyen