2012 Student and Faculty Vietnam Tour
In March, 2012 a delegation of students and faculty members from the UNO Department of Music left Omaha and flew to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) to begin an eight-day tour of Vietnam. The group included a jazz ensemble made up of students and faculty members who performed concerts as well gave a series of presentations over American pop and jazz music and on-line instruction.
The tour began with a visit to International University (IU) of HCMC, one of UNO’s sister universities. The setting and name of the university exemplified the fact that music is indeed an international language. An entire morning was spent with students and faculty members presenting their own music to a captivated crowd. Within a brief period members of the IU audience and the UNO delegation bonded through the spirit of music with a magical experience. One of the highlights of the day was the most beautiful singing by the IU Rector of a traditional Vietnamese ballad which he performed in both English and Vietnamese. Everyone was most taken with this concluding performance as evidenced by the fact that there was hardly a dry eye left in the concert hall. Additionally the group visited the Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory. There the jazz ensemble was warmly received particularly with their jazz rendition of a Vietnamese folk song, Trong Com. It was delightful to have over a hundred Vietnamese students singing and clapping to the UNO group’s upbeat version of a song that all IU students had grown up with as children.
The delegation then traveled to Hanoi with one day spent at Foreign Trade University. This institution specializes in training students for international commerce. With the student’s fluency in the English, it was a wonderful opportunity for them to share some of their own international experiences with the UNO delegation as well as a thorough dose of American jazz provided by the UNO group. There was time to see the sights of the beautiful city of Hanoi as well as travel to Ha Long Bay. This is a gorgeous area off the coast of Vietnam which has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
In both cities everyone was able to explore the indigenous music by listening to various folk ensembles. A highlight was a performance of a water puppet show located in the middle of a lake. This one-thousand year old tradition involves lacquered wooden puppets operated by men behind a screen in a body of water accompanied by a small folk ensemble. Purchases of these instruments was a must resulting in visits to various music stores which specialized in traditional instruments. These helped to give a material reminder of wonderful experiences with another culture that will be fondly remembered.