The Captivating Charms of Vietnamese Folk Songs: A Night to Remember at Berlin’s Iconic Philharmonie Hall

This Berlin-Hanoi 2023 music project is an extraordinary collaboration between German conductor Katrin Hübner and Vietnamese traditional music artists, Tran Phuong Hoa and Le Manh Hung. The result is a beautiful fusion of cultures and a unique musical experience.

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For the first time in history, a German chamber choir has performed a stunning rendition of Vietnamese folk songs at the iconic Berliner Philharmonie, one of the most celebrated concert halls globally.

This extraordinary event served as the grand finale of the Berlin-Hanoi 2023 music project, masterfully led by the German chamber choir Lichtenberger Piekfeine Töne.

The Berliner Philharmonie, a renowned concert hall in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Ngoc Anh

Conductor Katrin Hübner from Germany joined forces with Vietnamese traditional music artists Tran Phuong Hoa and Le Manh Hung, along with Vietnamese vocalists, to create a unique musical experience blending Vietnamese, German, and international compositions in multiple languages.

Vietnamese folk songs such as “Cay Truc Xinh,” “Qua Cau Gio Bay,” “Beo Dat May Troi,” and “Ngua O Thuong Nho” were specially arranged for this choir by a talented team of musicians.

Professor-composer Dang Ngoc Long, composer Jezzy Da Lam Huong Thao Nguyen, and conductor Katrin Hübner collaborated to adapt these cherished Vietnamese melodies for the choral format, showcasing their exceptional creativity.

The concert also showcased a distinctive fusion of traditional Vietnamese instruments played by artists Tran Phuong Hoa and Le Manh Hung, enhancing the classical four-part choral singing with a captivating twist. Over 100 voices from three Berlin choirs, encompassing both male and female singers, united to bring these specially arranged pieces to life.

Nguyen Huy Liem, an audience member with a passion for classical music and Vietnamese folk songs, expressed his appreciation for bringing traditional music into the modern musical landscape. He noted the rarity and challenge of presenting Vietnamese folk songs in a grand concert program at such a prestigious “music cathedral.”

Liem praised the performance for its successful blend of new expressions while retaining the Vietnamese soul in each composition. The standing ovation and thunderous applause from the audience attested to the passionate reception of Vietnamese music.

Vietnamese traditional music has made its mark on European stages, gracing major cities, famous historical landmarks, international music festivals, plays, films, stories, documentaries, television shows, and orchestras of diverse musical genres. This showcases the ability of Vietnamese culture to stand proudly alongside and integrate with global cultural trends.

Artists bow to the audience at the Berliner Philharmonie, grateful for their enthusiastic response. Photo: Ngoc Anh

Vietnamese music has previously enchanted Berlin’s stages, with a traditional concert held in Berlin City Hall in 1998 and the House of Cultures of the World hosting Vietnamese sounds in 2000. In 2001, Vietnamese traditional music found a place in the heart of the Beethoven Haus in Bonn.

Additionally, since 2007, Vietnamese traditional instruments have been integrated into the curriculum of Berlin’s public music schools, ensuring their lasting presence in the city’s cultural landscape.

The cultural exchange continued in 2014 with the opera “Con Rong, Chau Tien,” which fused Vietnamese instruments with the Bremen chamber symphony orchestra. This opera’s triumph culminated in a performance at the German Presidential Palace in Berlin in 2015. More recently, in 2022, the choir of the Max Planck Gymnasium Berlin further strengthened cultural ties by presenting beloved Vietnamese works.

Hannah Nguyen
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