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24 October 2014

1st Asia-Europe New Music Festival & Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra

Andrián Pertout with the president of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang Image: Andrián Pertout with the president of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang  

Andrián Pertout's orchestral work was recently performed in the historic Hanoi Opera House by the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra during the Asia-Europe New Music Festival. Police escorts and film crews accompanied participating composers during the event - they also had the honour of joining president Truong Tan Sang for tea.

The 1st Asia-Europe New Music Festival 2014, organised in Vietnam on 8-12 October, was the first 'Asian' instalment of the International New Music Festival: 'Europe-Asia' - a prestigious biennial music festival founded by the Ministry of Culture, Union of Composers of the Russian Federation and Union of Composers of Tatarstan in 1993. This fact alone gave the event such cultural significance that the Vietnam Composers Association managed to come on board under the direction of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in cooperation with the Central Propaganda Department. In one of his many speeches over the featival, the president of the Vietnam Composers' Association, Do Hong Quan, expressed his hope that in time the international event would place Vietnam on the world map of symphonic music.

The fact that composers and performers from Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Denmark, Estonia, France, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lithuania, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Tatarstan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA, Uzbekistan and Vietnam were represented made the festival extremely interesting, and particularly so in view of the fact that bestowed upon us was the opportunity to hear music from current and former territories of the Russian Federation. The festival featured seven concerts, which were held at the Hanoi Opera House, Vietnam Academy of Music Concert Hall and the Vietnam-Japan Culture Friendship Centre in Ha Long Bay (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). A stunning concert of traditional music was also presented at Dau Go Cave within a spectacular display of stalactites and stalagmites.

To say that my experience at the 1st Asia-Europe New Music Festival was overwhelming is truly an understatement. We were not only chauffeur-driven between the airport and Hanoi, and to and from all rehearsals with the orchestra, but treated to tea with president Truong Tan Sang at the Presidential Palace, given the red carpet treatment (including welcoming party) at the opening concert at the Hanoi Opera House with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, and given a police escort all the way from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay and back (yes, no traffic lights for the 2.5-hour, 140-kilometre journey); and if that sounds far-fetched, television camera crews and newspaper photographers also followed us around daily.

The opening ceremony and first concert took place right after our tea ceremony with president Truong Tan Sang at the Presidential Palace. And so, the Hanoi Opera House (built by the French colonial administration between 1901 and 1911) was the setting for my own work L'assaut sur la raison for Symphony Orchestra, and its performance by the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO) under the fine direction of Japanese conductor Honna Tetsuji. This work - part of a two-movement work, essentially a Symphonie de guerre - although directly inspired by the 2003 Iraq war, also intended of having a connection with more general world events, and the illogical thought process behind war, hence 'The assault on reason'. Incidentally, L'assaut sur la raison was recognised in the US with the 2004 Louisville Orchestra Prize, and locally with the APRA Award for Orchestral Composition (2004 3MBS FM National Composer Awards).

The opening concert included an impressive collection of works by Rashid Kalimullin (Tatarstan), Rustam Abdullayev (Uzbekistan), Marc Batter (France), Nguyen Thien Dao (Vietnam), Geir Johnson (Norway), Farajov Sardar (Azerbaijan) and Alexsander Chaikovsky (Russia). Mark Batter's Rain Water was certainly a standout piece, with its exquisite exploration of orchestral texture and timbre.

Esteemed Paris-based composer of Vietnamese descent Nguyen Thien Dao (a student of Olivier Messiaen) had the honour of being on the front cover of the English language national daily Vietnam News with president Truong Tan Sang the following day.

Further links

Andrián Pertout - AMC profile
The Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra
1st Asia-Europe New Music Festival 2014, 8-12 October, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam
'Music Strengthens Bonds between Nations and Continents: President' - an article in Vietnam News (9 October 2014)

Andrián Pertout is a freelance composer. His music has been performed in over 35 countries around the world. He is currently Honorary Fellow at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (University of Melbourne) and Lecturer in Composition at the Faculty of the VCA (University of Melbourne). He was also Australian Delegate of the Asian Composers’ League (2007-2013) and President of the Melbourne Composers’ League (2009-2013).


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