Vietnam's international concert pianist, Dang Thai Son, will perform, for the first time, at Piano International 2013, the city's music festival, on December 2 at the HCM City's Concert Hall.

Upon returning to the city, formerly called Sai Gon, where his mother was born into an upper class family and studied piano, he told Vietnam News, "This feels like a fish returning to water," referring to Debussy's piece, Gold Fish, which he will be playing tonight.

"My mother taught me my first musical notes when I was a toddler, so going to her hometown also feels like going home," he said.

During a press conference held at the city's Music Conservatory, director Van Minh Huong said, "After the first festival, held in 2011, the city's officials wanted to make this festival the city's cultural highlight, and suggested that we needed to make this international by inviting People's Artist Dang Thai Son. Due to his being busy performing, teaching and sitting on international piano juries around the world, it took us two years to bring him here."

HCM City has increasingly become international, with music centers mushrooming, most children of upper middle class learning music, as well as instrument shops on the city's downtown streets. The future of music training looks good, according to Huong.

The concert will feature compositions by French composer Debussy, as well as work by two of Vietnam's most prominent contemporary composers, Do Hong Quan and Dang Huu Phuc.

"This is the first time I have played music by Vietnamese composers in Vietnam," Son said. "I studied with Quan at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory and I was always the first to play Phuc's music every time he finished a new piece.

"At the end of the concert, I will play a piano duo with Luu Hong Quang, a budding pianist of the new generation," he added.

Asked what is personal about this concert, Son said, "Musicians in Vietnam were first influenced by the French musical tradition. Before I studied at Tchaikovky, I was already absorbing French methods taught by my mother. And I believe the French school best suits us, because it's very delicate, sublime and imaginative."

Debussy was one of the western composers also inspired by Asia. "The gold fish can be seen in artistic traditions of Japan, China and Vietnam. "I feel like a gold fish swimming in its waters."

The pianist will have another concert in the capital city of Hanoi at the Opera House on December 4.-VNA