Cellist Phan Do Phuc: every person is born with a mission

Saturday, 2020-07-25 16:37:21
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Cellist Phan Do Phuc (right) performing with the cello at the Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi.
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NDO – Graduating from a doctoral training programme for a major in cello and winning many prestigious awards in the US, artist Phan Do Phuc still returned to Vietnam to promote the cello and spread the beauty of classical music in the community.

Spreading the love of music

Q: I was very impressed with your talks about music. Why did you decide to return to Vietnam while you had many great opportunities in the US?

A: I left Vietnam seven years ago when I had just finished 11th grade at Chu Van An High School in Hanoi on a full scholarship to Italy. I then went to the US to attend university and study my PhD. I had many job opportunities such as a cello instructor at several universities. However, I decided to return to Vietnam. I thought that it was time for me to contribute to the community and the homeland. In Vietnam, I could do small things to spread my love of cello and music to all people.

Q: Coming back after a long time away, how do you feel about classical music in Vietnam?

A: Compared to the time I left the country to study abroad, musical activity in Vietnam is now more diverse. There are many young teachers who have been trained in foreign countries. Young artists are very active, they have organised their own shows and many spontaneous orchestra groups have been formed. I saw that classical music has great prospects for development in Vietnam. I hope that more families can hold concerts and invite others to listen. This form of event is very popular in foreign countries. Accordingly, audiences do not need to go to large concert halls to listen to classical music. I aspire to do small things like that which can be absorbed into life. I hope people will study and listen to music more; thereby, their spiritual life will be improved.

Q: What are your plans after your return to Vietnam?

A: I will organise many small activities to connect art forms with music. In addition to big shows, I want to hold smaller ones, including playing classical music in coffee houses with Sun Symphony Orchestra members. That is a popular model abroad because they think classical music is not too “luxury”. Many pieces were composed by famous authors such as Schubert in a familiar environment. I like small shows like that very much because I can feel the audience’s energy.

I will also work with artist Trang Trinh to implement projects to popularise musical education for children. In August, I will cooperate with painter Do Vu to talk about the interaction between music and painting. That will be a way for us to attract each other’s audiences. I am always curious and interested to connect knowledge and exploration. While teaching, I want my students to ask a lot. An artist, who wants to develop his career, should have a good mindset. The right method of teaching is to inspire the students’ thought process.

Q: In your opinion, what are the targets of music?

A: The targets are high standards as well as the greatest and the most quintessential things that humans have created. Not everyone can follow and create music. Artists are intermediaries bringing beauty closer to audiences, so they themselves must understand and feel the beauty first. My path was thanks to both predestination and luck. I wondered what I would do in this life. In my journey, I learned many lessons as well as facing pain and failure. The experiences have helped me mature and improve my cello sound.

Cellist Phan Do Phuc

Music is not only a profession but also a reason for living

Q: As I know, you began your music career with the organ. What brought you to the cello?

A: It can be said that the cello chose me as I entered the Hanoi Conservatory of Music and began my journey with this special instrument. The more I played it, the more I loved it. Cello contains many interesting features such as its vocal range being very wide with both low and high notes. People who study the cello love low notes. The cello’s timbre is very special, touching the audiences’ hearts. While playing cello, I feel that I am living in the music.

Q: Do you still dream of conquering the world’s major awards?

A: I think I am not motivated by a youthful desire to chase major awards. I will do small things to satisfy my curiosity first. And then the more I expand the connection, the more audiences I will attract. As a result, the sound of the cello will have more opportunity to spread in popularity. I want to conquer audiences who have never heard about the cello. I think every person is born with a certain role in society. And most importantly, I will dare to pursue my path persistently.

Q: When do you spend time practicing the cello?

A: I still practice the cello every morning. It is my spiritual food to maintain my skills. An artist should nurture his love and spread the energy to his students, helping them understand the music’s value. When we know these core values, we will realise that music is not only a profession but also a reason for life. Therefore, we should make more of efforts to push ourselves beyond our limits in the best way possible.

Cellist Phan Do Phuc, who was born in 1990, has gained remarkable achievements in both study and artistic creativity in the country and abroad. In 2008, he won the first prize at the chamber concert contest in Trieste, Italy. Phuc also bagged the first prize at the Ackerman Chamber Music Competition in New York, the US. He performed in many leading concert halls in the US and worked for many prestigious orchestras in America and the world such as Napa Valley Festival Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival Orchestra, New York Classical Players Orchestra.