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Ho Chi Minh City
Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Autumn Melodies festival to conclude with ballet and two concerts

By Bradley Winterton

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HCMC – All events to this year’s Autumn Melodies festival (September 10 to 17) are with free entrance. The last three concerts should be particularly good value.

On September 15 there will be a Young Talented and Bigband Concert, conducted by Nguyen Tuan Loc. It will contain 15 items, all contemporary or near-contemporary. Prominent among the composers represented are Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Leroy Anderson and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Much of the material is film music, and famous films featured are Pirates of the Caribbean, The Avengers, The Incredibles, Les Miserables, The Terminal and The Mission.

Older composers featured are Saint-Saens (Tarantelle), Faure (Pavane), and Ibert (Trois pieces breves, or three short pieces).

Ballet Kieu was created in Saigon by HBSO in 2020, and repeated in Hanoi. It is based on a famous Vietnamese book, The Tale of Kieu, by the poet Nguyen Du which has been translated into 20 other languages.

This major project was specially commissioned by the Vietnam Association of Dancers. It aims to combine the spirit of Vietnamese culture with European ballet techniques. Choreography is by Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh and Nguyen Phuc Hung.

Dancers include Meritorious Artist Tran Hoang Yen, Meritorious Artist Ho Phi Diep and Meritorious Artist Dam Duc Nhuan, together with Sung A Lung, Do Hoang Khang Ninh and others.

It features a beautiful hologram designed by Tran Chuong and costumes designed by Khanh Piep.

This full-length ballet was a major creation by the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet, and its revival for the Autumn Melodies festival is also a major event.

“The female dancers must be well trained in pointe shoes and the male dancers must have the complex techniques required in classical ballet and incorporate these into their dance movements to convey the inner spirit of the work,” said Tuyet Minh.

Beethoven composed his Triple Concerto, for violin, cello and piano, in 1803 when he was 33 years old. It was another five years before it was first performed, however. He considered it a “society entertainment” and it isn’t as tumultuous as some of Beethoven’s later works. It has been claimed that the piano part was especially easy to play as it was written for an archduke who was one of Beethoven’s patrons and was only a teenager, but there is no evidence of the young aristocrat ever playing it in a public performance.

This delightful work, the only concerto Beethoven ever wrote for more than one soloist, will be played in Saigon by violinist Meritorious Artist Bui Cong Duy, cellist Phan Do Phuc and Nguyen Trinh Huong (piano).

Then in conclusion to the concert and the festival as a whole comes Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov came from an aristocratic family with a tradition of government service. The name “Rimsky”, meaning Roman, was granted the family because they originally came from the south, an area that was at one time part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Rimsky became a naval inspector and served some time in this capacity at sea. A love of the sea is said to have influenced his most celebrated work, Scheherazade.

This piece tells the story, taken from the Arabic book A Thousand and One Nights, of a king who vowed to behead a wife a day to ensure they were not unfaithful to him. Scheherazade, however, managed to delay this fate by telling the king a story every night which she didn’t complete. The king asked her to continue the next night and this continued for a thousand nights. Finally Scheherazade gave up, but the king had by this time fallen in love with her so all was resolved in a happy ending.

This final concert of the 2022 Autumn Melodies festival will be conducted by the HBSO’s music director, Meritorious Artist Tran Vuong Thach.

The Autumn Melodies festival is a major event in the musical year of Saigon and should attract some very large audiences, especially with the added bonus of a free entrance.

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