Wednesday, 12/10/2022 09:21

Sun Symphony Orchestra returns with “a new dawn”


Olivier Ochanine, Music Director and SSO conductor. Photo courtesy of Sun Symphony Orchestra

Sun Symphony Orchestra (SSO), the first and only privately owned orchestra in Việt Nam, will mark their return this October with a series of concerts after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the theme “a new dawn”, the series will feature both chamber concerts and SSO relaunch concerts, taking place in both Hà Nội and HCM City. Olivier Ochanine, Music Director and SSO Principal Conductor, talks with Lương Thu Hương about their comeback.

SSO will have its first official performance at Hanoi Opera House on October 26 after two years of pandemic postponement. What can you tell us about the first performance?

The concert on October 26 will not be the first one that marks SSO’s return, as that will be the Chamber Concert that takes place two weeks earlier, on October 14. The full orchestra will officially play our first notes together since 2020 at the main concert on October 26.

The theme of the concerts symbolizes the atmosphere of the Sun Symphony Orchestra in the recent weeks - the eagerness and excitement to welcome the "sun" rising again. There will be a lot of rhythm and dance elements, as I chose music from Spain, France and Mexico, featuring a solo artist who is half Russian and half Vietnamese, Aylen Pritchin. He is an emerging violinist in the international music industry, and I can't wait to reintroduce him to our Vietnamese audience. 

The music with Latin American rhythms is mostly selected for SSO upcoming concerts. What are the reasons for this?

I just had a nice meeting with the Mexican Embassy in Việt Nam to let them know a little bit about the Mexican part of the programme, and they were very excited because Mexican orchestral music is not often performed in Southeast Asia. I think this music is perfect for our audience because everyone likes dancing and singing. It’s easy to listen to, a lot of fun, energetic and super joyful. This is the SSO's way of saying that "we are back" and will continue to engage our audiences and hopefully inspire them. 

SSO has officially sold tickets for the monthly performances since 2019-2020 seasons. It is known that tickets for this year’s concerts will continue to be sold through channels. What is your expectation for this year's sold tickets and the size of the audiences?

I do hope and expect that our audience will get bigger and bigger. Our wish is to have a full audience in any auditorium where the SSO performs, as having live audiences will bring much more energy to the concerts than performing online, which musicians had to resort to during the lengthy lockdowns. 

I am confident that the SSO's audience will grow and I am very proud of our quality product. The musicians are wonderful, professional and dedicated, and I think we are going to offer a nice range of musical experiences for people from all walks of life. The most recent proof of the excitement from the public is that the number of tickets for the chamber concert on October 14 sold out after just a few hours from concert announcement. 

SSO conductor is pictured with Sun Symphony Orchestra. — Photo courtesy of Sun Symphony Orchestra

Besides the main concerts that are open for ticket sales, the orchestra will also present familiar guests and the public with a number of free chamber concerts, held at Vietnam National Academy of Music. What are their differences in their music and performance?

A chamber concert is intended to mimic a house concert - the way many celebrated composers introduced their new compositions around 200 years ago. It is usually performing in a small space, offering a more intimate atmosphere to the audience. Our concert is in a large hall, however the idea is the same - having an evening of intimate music featuring various groups of chamber musicians. The performance is open to the public free of charge, so just about anyone can come and enjoy the music.

Chamber concerts will mostly not have a conductor but do include small groups of 3-5 or more musicians. It's a good way to introduce the audience to different sounds and ways that musicians communicate with one another. This Friday’s concert will present chamber groups that include the piano, an added feature in the SSO'S post-COVID chamber concerts.

SSO will also perform in HCM for the first time on November 1. Why has the scope of performances been expanded and what are the differences in the taste for classical music between Hà Nội and HCMC audiences?

Our wish is to put SSO on the world music map. As the SSO grows stronger and stronger, it is necessary to perform in many places so that people know more about the SSO. We like to be associated with cultures in different places because art, culture and music are closely linked. From learning the culture of new places in which we perform, the orchestra can grow stronger.

As you know, HCM City and Hà Nội are very different cities. I think there is generally more interest in orchestra music in Hà Nội, although HCMC is more cosmopolitan, industrialised, and even more international. I'm quite eager to see what the reception to the orchestra will be. In the future, we hope to be able to perform in many other places of Việt Nam such as Đà Nẵng, Phú Quốc, Sa Pa, among others. Previously, the SSO performed outdoors at Sun World Bà Nà Hills in Đà Nẵng City for two weeks, entertaining different kinds of audiences who were staying at the resort. We look forward to bringing our music even further to other countries and to show off the high level of this group.

What are the orchestra's next projects?

Currently, we are focusing on the upcoming return of the orchestra by way of the main concert on October 26 and November 1 after the temporary hiatus due to the pandemic. As planning permits, we will be thrilled to share upcoming projects. 2023 is going to be a fabulous year of SSO performances, and I can't wait to let our fans know more about it. We hope that the audience will continue to follow the orchestra for more information about our future performances. VNS


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