Organisers did not anticipate that the LUALA Concert programme would be named one of the top ten musical events of 2011 by the Vietnam Association of Musicians after only a few performances, nor did they expect it to be nominated for “Programme of the Year” at the 2011 Music Dedication Awards.
Now there is a new and exciting scene in Hanoi on Ly Thai To Street, opposite the Metropole Hotel, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from around 3 to 6pm. A large crowd of people, including parents, children and even grandparents, can be seen gathered in front of the Music Publishing House; they have come early to find a place to sit or stand on the narrow pavement and enjoy a free two hour musical programme.
There has been a steady increase in the audience turnout since the early days of the LUALA project. The crowd is always orderly and has learned how to become immersed in the world of music and thoroughly enjoy the concerts. The organisers of this project may have been surprised to arouse such emotions and bring out a lifestyle so deeply embedded in the hearts of Hanoians.
Recalling the early days of the project, Do Ngoc Minh said: “When I got the idea of a street orchestra, everyone thought I was day-dreaming. Only Xuan Huy endorsed me with practical actions.” So what made young entrepreneur Do Ngoc Minh think of supporting such a meaningful community project? And what made the talented violinist Ngo Xuan Huy so excited about the idea after many years of “reclusion”?
Do Ngoc Minh said clearly and frankly: “I wanted to market my brand in a way that is beneficial both for me and the community.” It is obvious that before the LUALA concerts caught public and media attention, the LUALA brand of the DX Fashion Company, owned by Do Ngoc Minh, seemed little-known to the public.
Today, users can just Google the keyword “LUALA” and they will see over 200,000 results on the screen, many of which are directed to web pages about LUALA and Do Ngoc Minh. Many members of the large audiences at LUALA concerts were curious about the sponsor behind the programme.
The benefit that Do Ngoc Minh hoped to gain for himself was achieved in an elegant and cultured manner. But the benefit for the community is much more significant: classical musicians now have an opportunity to get closer to their audience.
Not all classical music lovers can go to the Hanoi Opera House every week to hear their favourite symphonies. Of course, classical music is always available on tapes and CDs, but now fans can enjoy it for free, performed by a team of talented musicians from major theatres and orchestras with a full set of stringed instruments.
The concerts are open to everyone, from motorbike taxi drivers and wandering scrap dealers, to families and tourists walking in the park. And more than that, they have created a healthy cultural lifestyle for the public in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the capital city. It is not an exaggeration to say that this project has given birth to a new class of musical audiences and has raised public awareness and appreciation of higher level music.
These are the reasons violinist Ngo Xuan Huy made such great efforts to organise the programme. He invited all the best musicians from the Vietnam National Academy of Music, National Symphony Orchestra and National Opera Ballet to join him in the project. They practise for months before each performance, which features hundreds of favourite familiar pieces as well as short symphonies to lure audiences to the musical feast.
One of the key factors in the programme's success is the total dedication of the participating artists. The perfect performing conditions, along with the audience’s serious attention and positive response, have aroused strong emotions in the hearts of these musicians.
However, Ngo Xuan Huy said: “The most important factor is patronage. Patrons are the ones who dare to take on a new project and provide funding. They devote themselves to the public good without weighing the personal benefits. For this project they spent a large sum of money to buy musical instruments from abroad, pay the musicians and cover the costs of organising the events. I must acknowledge that Do Ngoc Minh has given all of his heart to the arts. I think that Vietnam needs more patrons who support the arts instead of just focusing on superficial activities such as beauty contests and popular music shows.”
Cultural sponsorship remains a hot topic for discussion, but one thing is for certain: the success of a community arts project requires the combination of enthusiastic audiences, artists and patrons who share a sense of dedication and passion for the arts.