UNT College of Music visits Vietnam

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Chuong Vu
May 13, 2014.

A group of UNT College of Music faculty and students is visiting Vietnam between May 12-31 for some fantastic musical and cross-cultural adventures. We have been here for a few days now and are ready to start chronicling our daily experiences. The group includes Dean of the College of Music, Prof. James Scott, Associate Professor of Violin, Dr. Felix Olschofka, Assistant Director of Orchestral Studies, Dr. Clay Couturiaux, Artist Teacher of Viola, Dr. Daphne Gerling, and DMA candidates Dan Totan, cello and Chuong Vu, violin. We are especially grateful to Vu for organizing the trip.

May 13th marked the arrival of Vu, Dr. Couturiaux and Dan….who after more than 24 hours on the road found that they had no suitcases….and even worse, no cellos! This was thankfully sorted out over the next two days, and their instruments arrived safely!

May 14th, Dr. Gerling arrived with her husband, Dr. Coulter George, who is an associate professor of Classical Languages at the University of Virginia. Needless to say, he has been excited to learn some Vietnamese on this trip– a very different language than the Latin and Greek he teaches daily at UVa.

May 15th we were excited to have Dr. Olschofka and Melissa Sanderson join the group. We are all comfortably settled in our apartment-hotel, located centrally in Ho Chi Min City. In between rehearsals and jet-lag recovery we have all shared some terrific meals together! Luckily for us, Melissa and Coulter have been able to take lots of pictures of the main sights around the city, and they have been taking us around to catch up at the end of the day.

On Friday May 16th, Dr. Gerling taught a master class for pre-college violists and violinists at the Ho Chi Min City Conservatory. I hope to get some pictures of that up very soon! It was an exciting morning- arriving at the school, hearing the sounds of violins, trumpets, bassoon and even Vietnamese traditional flute being practiced throughout the hallways and stairwells. The students in the master class were so polite and very eager to learn. The played works by Stamitz, Max Bruch, Rieding and Hummel, and ranged in age from 13-17. Their teachers attended the classes and were very attentive. One beautiful thing to see was that all the students had immense respect for their teachers, bowing before they played, and observing traditional formality. However, it was clear that the atmosphere was very supportive, and when the students did well responding to my comments, they immediately were cheered and received a warm applause. The Vietnamese conservatory culture seems to blend a great balance between discipline and warmth. It was nice to see students greeted on the stairs by their teacher with a hug of congratulations for their performance. Everyone seemed so happy all morning, and it was an absolute pleasure to share in it with them.

As soon as we can, we will add pictures of our travels…so stay tuned!

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