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'Ascending Dragon' music from Hanoi to be broadcast on KUSC

January 21, 2011 |  6:00 am

Beyond obvious goodwill, “Ascending Dragon,” the cultural exchange last spring between Southwest Chamber Music in Pasadena and the Vietnam National Academy of Music in Hanoi, generated significant musical results. Works were commissioned from two young American composers and two young Vietnamese.

Performances from Hanoi and here of those pieces as well as music by two senior Vietnamese composers who emigrated to France in the '50s will be featured in a special two-hour KUSC broadcast Saturday on the “The Freeway Series,” hosted by guitarist John Schneider.

Observing the concerts, I was most struck by the premieres of Alexandra du Bois’ culturally probing and richly poetic “Within Earth, Wind Grows” for Vietnamese and Western instruments, and by Vu Nhat Tan’s urban, hip yet traditional “Pho,” both of which will be broadcast for the first time.
The revelation for me of the exchange was discovering the music of the elegiac, spiritual Ton That Tiet and the passionate, venturesome and occasionally choleric Nguyen Thien Dao. These French émigrés were among Olivier Messiaen’s favored pupils and have created a uniquely atmospheric fusion of French and Vietnamese sensibilities and sounds.


Critic's Notebook: Southwest Chamber Music hits Saigon

Musical détente at Hanoi Opera House

Southwest Chamber Music's further adventures in Hanoi

Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh: Southwest Chamber Music begins its Vietnam visit

Music review: Southwest Chamber Music takes on Vietnam

American musicians bond with Vietnamese counterparts

-- Mark Swed

Photo: Vietnamese composer Vu Nhat Tan (center) with Southwest Chamber Music percussionist Lynn Vartan and cellist Peter at the Thang Long art gallery in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit: Chau Doan/Los Angeles Times