Viet Nam News
Singer Tân Nhàn is busy preparing for her first solo concert Trở Về (The Return) on February 23. She talks to Minh Thu about her ambitions of putting traditional music in the spotlight.
Can you tell us about the concert?
I’m lucky to have many famous artists involved such as director Trần Mạnh Hùng, choreographer Trần Ly Ly, saxophonist Quyền Thiện Đắc, conductor Đồng Quang Vinh and a special orchestra which includes 50 artists who play traditional musical instruments together with the Việt Nam National Symphony Orchestra.
My husband Tuấn Anh (a voice trainer at the Việt Nam National Academy of Music – VNAM) is also production director for the concert.
I have worked as a professional singer and teacher for many years, but this will be my first solo live show. I performed live with my husband in 2013, but I want to review my artistic journey. I will perform songs about the homeland; songs that helped me win the Sao Mai singing contest and bought me fame; and songs of xẩm (blind buskers’ songs), chầu văn (spiritual music) and quan họ (love duets).
What’re the highlights of the concert?
The concert is called The Return with the aim of calling people to turn their attention back to traditional music.
The special orchestra combining traditional music, chamber music and electronic music will definitely provide amazing emotions and experiences for the audiences. I hope this will breathe new life and vitality into folk music.
Why has it taken so long for you to hold a second solo concert?
After the concert in 2013, I began thinking about my own concert, where I had the final decision on what I would perform; where I could present my emotions, discoveries and experiences in music. I have spent many years practising, experimenting and researching. Now I feel it’s the right time for me.
Will there be any guest artists at the show?
Artist Emeritus Đình Cương who is famous for chèo, and musician Ngô Hồng Quang from the Netherlands, who sings and plays traditional Vietnamese instruments.
I’m not only a singer but I also teach at VNAM, so I wanted to put my top students on stage such as Lại Thị Hương Ly (second prize at the Kyushu Music Concour 2018) and Thanh Quý (first runner-up at Extreme Duet Vietnam 2018).
Why haven’t you invited other artists who are popular at the moment to help sell tickets and promote the concert?
The people will be there for me. I am confident that my name is attractive enough to sell tickets. The artists I’ve invite to perform together are important and talented. I really appreciate their professionalism.
Tickets range from VNĐ600,000–5 million (US$30-250). Even if all of the tickets are sold out, the proceeds don’t cover all the expenses. I’ve invested about VNĐ4 billion ($174,000) for the show. It’s a worthy price for my first concert, and for a performance dedicated to traditional music, a national heritage.
Your husband Tuấn Anh is also a famous singer who also won Sao Mai in 2005. Why isn’t he singing with you at this concert?
I really want to have him on the stage but between singing and producing, he just wants to choose one role. Finally he decided to work as producer for the concert. He told me that he would do everything for me, I just have to shine. Indeed, he helped me from A to Z, I just need to focus on singing.
How have you prepared for the concert?
I was busy during Tết (Lunar New Year festival) like other Vietnamese women. I love Tết because I have a chance to make the house beautiful, enjoy shopping and slow down for a bit. I’ve been spending most of time practising for the concert and teaching at VNAM, so I treasure the free time to go to the flower market. This year I was happy because I had a branch of peach blossom right beside the piano. It provided inspiration and emotion when I was practising because I want to bring the spring atmosphere to the audience.
You have caused controversy by combining chèo with jazz in the music video Yếm Đào Xuống Phố (Wearing Traditional Costume to Go Downtown). Are you afraid of being criticised if you continue to mash up traditional music in this concert?
I’m not worried about that because the controversy proved that people are concerned about my work. Attracting people to discuss traditional music is my purpose. A debate means I’m successful.
What are your hobbies? Are they related to music?
Yes, I often listen to music when I have free time. Apart from traditional music, I also love pop songs, especially by young artists. It’s not for entertainment only but also helps me understand young people and support my teaching and research work.
Can you tell us about your plans for the future?
I have just released a music video featuring quan họ (love duet singing) entitled Tương Phùng Tương Ngộ (Dating). It’s an effort to welcome the upcoming Lim Festival in the northern province of Bắc Ninh. The festival dedicated to quan họ kicks off on the 12th day of the Lunar New Year (February 16). — VNS