|Vietnamese professor and guitarist Dang Ngoc Long performs at the finale of the International Guitar Competition and Festival Berlin 2022. (Photo: VNA)
The final round and award ceremony of this year’s International Guitar Competition and Festival will take place at Prinzenalle where musical performances, plays, and community projects are regularly hosted in Berlin.
The finalists will be invited to perform in person in Berlin. In the first and second rounds, due to COVID-19, the 15 contestants from 11 countries and territories had to send videos or youtube links to the jury board of their performance of the required pieces “ Faust Sonata” composed by Dang Ngoc Long, headmaster of the Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Music School and Chairman of the Art Council.
Jürgen Buch, head of the organizing board and Deputy Head of the Berline Guitar Ensemble, said it took months to prepare for the competition.
“As the competition’s Art Director, Professor Dang Ngoc Long is in charge of selecting musical pieces for the contestants. They often are works Long has composed or arranged, usually Vietnamese folk melodies arranged in a modern European music style,“ said Buch.
He added, recently, a professional music magazine in France rated the Berlin Guitar Competition one of the 5 most prestigious guitar competitions in the world. “So the competition is quite important for young guitarists. Winning the competition can make one’s career,” Buch concluded.
“Working in the Field”, “Angry but lovely”, “Lullaby singing”, and “Floating water ferns and wandering clouds” are among the Vietnamese folk songs adapted for guitar by Dang Ngoc Long.
All of them were performed by contestants in previous competitions, one of whose purposes is to bring Vietnamese music to a worldwide audience.
Profesor Long has also written a number of original guitar pieces, including “The Mountains and Forests of the Central Highlands”, considered one of the best works by an Asian composer.
He said he hopes the next competition will be held in Vietnam, because nothing would make him happier than hearing songs he has composed or reworked performed by artists in the fatherland.
Long recalled, "The most impressive was the 2014 competition in which the compulsory piece was a lullaby song of the southern region I reworked for the guitar. The first prize winner was a Danish contestant who successfully expressed the soul of the folk songs of Vietnam’s southern region whose accented notes were very difficult for a European contestant. Listening to her performance, I thought she was Vietnamese."
|The stage in the Ballhaus in Prinzenallee (Photo: Dang Ngoc Long)
Emil Petrov, a member of the jury, said that the competition is a rendezvous of many talented guitarists from around the world, requiring the organizing board, especially Professor Long, to make careful preparations to ensure the success and prestige of the contest.
“It’s undeniable that Long is one of the world‘s leading classical guitarists. His compositions are influenced by the European and Asian music. I once attended his lectures, which were really absorbing. Long has a very good way of explaining and his explanations are easy to understand," said Emil.
He added, “As a member of the jury, I think that Long plays an important role in the jury, and his evaluations are very fair. He’s a very dynamic, friendly, and modest member of the organizing board.”
To participate in the competition, contestants must be students of professional music academy and cannot be more than 40 years old. They are required to play compulsory pieces and elective pieces from memory.
|Vietnamese professor and guitarist Dang Ngoc Long (R) and professor-artist Inge Wilczok, former head of the Guitar Faculty of the “Hanns Eisler” Musical Academy in Berlin (Photo: Dang Ngoc Long)
This year, the first prize winner will receive a certificate and a Roge Yang guitar worth 8,000 euros and will be invited to perform and serve as a jury member for the next Berlin international guitar competition in 2024.
In the past, three Vietnamese contestants have participated in the competition. Tran Tuan Anh won the second prize in 2016, and in 2020 Dao Nhu Khanh was honoured as the best performer of “ Suite Kieu”, based on “The Tale of Kieu ”, the 18th century poetic masterpiece by Nguyen Du.
The International Guitar Competition&Festival Berlin has drawn participants from Austria, Belgium, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Russia, Spain, Vietnam, South Korea, Belarus, Ukraine, the UK, the US, and Mexico.