Classical music reaches out to new generation

Many people let out a yawn at classical music because not everyone understands the complexity of the genre.
Many people let out a yawn at classical music because not everyone understands the complexity of the genre.

However, a new orchestra is even attracting younger audiences, thanks to its unique blend of pop, symphony and traditional music.

Rhapsody Philharmonic is made up of 50 musicians aged 17-25 from the Vietnam National Academy of Music.

Set up in September last year, the orchestra received immediate acclaim following its first show for students at the academy.

When Nguyen Hung Cuong, 25, studied in Australia , he dreamed of setting up a group in Vietnam for young musicians to exchange, create and play different styles of music.

When Cuong returned to the country, he discussed the idea with Luu Quang Minh, the president of the students' association at the academy, and received positive feedback.

"We decided to play semi-classical music," Minh said. "We wanted to create a different musical space where classical and contemporary values could come together. "We want to bring classical music closer to audiences, especially young people," he added.

They aren't passionate about melodies by Mozart and Beethoven, but they lose themselves in songs by Lady Gaga, Eminem and Linkinpark, Minh said.

"If we get bored playing serious songs, we cheer each other up by playing exciting songs such as Poker Face on the violin and dan tranh (16-chord zither)," Minh said.

To lure young audiences to their music, they perform with traditional Vietnamese instruments accompanied by classical instruments such as the piano, guitar, trumpet, cello and oboe.

IT student Pham The Anh said he had thought that symphony was difficult to understand, but after attending a show by Rhapsody, he became enchanted by it.

"Rhapsody Philharmonic waters the dried souls of people who are working day and night with numbers and programming. They play classical music in a different and emotional way."

With the slogan Life Is a Vein of Eternity – We L.I.V.E Music, all members of the orchestra share the same passion for music and expressing themselves.

"You may imagine that an orchestra should have to perform in a solemn chamber where the audience listen in silence and clap their hands elegantly when the show ends, we are different," Minh said.

"We can perform anywhere and we're encouraged when the audience stands up to dance to our music," he said.

The orchestra's manager, Nguyen Song Ha, said that the secret to Rhapsody's vitality was mixing classical music with traditional music. Classical music is played in a creative way through the use of traditional Vietnamese instruments.

At the Long Bien Bridge Festival 2010 in Hanoi , Rhapsody impressed an audience of over 4,000 by playing pieces using the bamboo flute, dan bau (Vietnamese monochord), dan tranh and violin, accompanied by DJ's.

Composer Tran Manh Hung from the Vietnam Musicians' Association praised the orchestra as "heroes of Vietnamese music of the future".

The orchestra not only plays classical music, they also perform their own music. Many of Rhapsody's members are young, Vietnamese musicians, who have played with orchestras from across Southeast Asia . All of them have excelled at the Vietnam National Academy of Music, and some of them are also members of the Vietnam National and Hanoi Symphony Orchestras.

Professionalism and passion are the outstanding characters of Rhapsody Philharmonic. The orchestra does not only perform at events as guests, but also organises its own shows. Each member is responsible for a different task, such as designing advertising posters, seeking sponsorship, arranging the show and inviting guests.

The orchestra has a monthly show at the Vietnam National Academy of Music, where students account for the majority of audiences. As students with different timetables, they have to save time to practise together during lunch breaks.

"The orchestra has so many members that it takes a lot of time to set our instruments up," Ha said.

"However, all of us love music and are committed to the group. /.

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