NY Phil in Vietnam Day 5

Symphony magazine’s exclusive coverage of the New York Philharmonic’s visit to Hanoi, Vietnam

Day Five: Postscript

Symphony Managing Editor Jennifer Melick, reporting from Vietnam, concludes her coverage of the New York Philharmonic’s visit to Hanoi, part of the orchestra’s Asian Horizons tour led by Music Director Alan Gilbert. The October 14-18 residency included two concerts at Hanoi Opera House—the first ever by the Philharmonic in Vietnam—along with a free outdoor simulcast open to the public on an adjoining plaza and master classes for local students at the Vietnam National Academy of Music. Asian Horizons was the orchestra’s first international tour under Gilbert.

For Jennifer’s complete, day-by-day reports from Hanoi, click here.

Opera House
The simulcast of New York Philharmonic concerts at the Hanoi Opera House drew crowds.

(Photo: Chris Lee/New York Philharmonic)

October 17

I stopped by to check out the Saturday-night scene in front of the Hanoi Opera House during the second of the New York Philharmonic’s concerts there. A live simulcast of the concert was being shown free of charge on large screens in front of the Opera House. I bumped into a guy from the U.S. Embassy, and we chatted about why the plaza was not shut off to traffic (long story short: bureaucracy here can be difficult). So, as soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann was winding his way through the Brahms Violin Concerto, motorbikes and taxis and supply trucks and buses whizzed around the plaza. Most people continued driving their motorbikes but craned their necks in a 180 as they discovered music was playing and saw the screens. There were two large clumps of people stationed in front of each of the two screens and speaker set-ups, at the left and right of the front steps. Some people stood, but for the most part they sat on their parked motorbikes—a pose you see everywhere in this city.
The next night I went through the same area on my way back from Halong Bay, and although there was no concert that night, the front steps of the Hanoi Opera House were yet another scene for an evening hangout.
By the way, the rough translation of Nha Hat Lon—the name of the opera house in Vietnamese—is “house sing big.” Competing at all times, of course, with “traffic honk loud.”