“I felt an intense musical bond with Vietnamese music and songs, which persisted even when I didn’t fully comprehend all the lyrics. This connection extended to Vietnamese traditional instruments as well. Despite the cultural and geographical disparities, when I initially sat down to play them, it felt like we had known each other before," said Wilson.
|Wilson began his career as a cellist, but a trip to Vietnam opened up a new world of musical possibilities for the American.
Yet, even for accomplished Vietnamese artists, let alone for foreigners like Wilson, combining traditional instruments like Dan bau and Dan tranh with contemporary instruments poses a significant technical challenge.
The Vietnamese instruments are intertwined with traditional theaters styles like Chèo (traditional theatre), Cải lương (reformed opera), and Đờn ca tài tử (southern amateur singing), requiring a keen ear for music, a deep understanding, and long experience of each style, says Meritorious Artist Pham Tra My, senior lecturer of zither performance at the Vietnam National Academy of Music.
|Wilson and Meritorious Artist Pham Tra My perform at the concert entitled "10th Anniversary Culture Show'' in Hanoi to mark the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership.
Having collaborated with Wilson on multiple occasions, Meritorious Artist Tra My attests to the difficulties: “Bryan has a good attitude toward learning, and is undettered by any language or cultural barrier. He is respectful and attentive to the opinions of other artists. Whenever he shares his compositions with me for feedback, he always exhibits a receptive mindset, welcoming any suggestions or ideas to refine and evolve his creations. It’s a rare character that makes a true artist.”
Despite the many challenges he has encountered on his journey, Wilson has persevered. His dedication to Vietnamese traditional music extends beyond his diligent study and practice. It shines through his continuing efforts to create music that appeals to the public.
In his latest album, titled "Tri Am," Wilson pays homage to Vietnam's captivating landscapes, drawing inspiration from their mesmerizing beauty. With this release, the American cellist brings forth a blend of Vietnamese ethnic instruments, the cello, and electronic music that honors Vietnamese deep culture while capturing the essence of the diverse natural scenery that influenced it.
Wilson shared: “Tri Am” is about not having to talk, just me and the audience sharing a deep connection through music. I want to honor this connection, recognizing the power of understanding one another through the language of music. We can still feel a deep connection with others without the need for words, as demonstrated by my personal experiences when interacting with Vietnamese traditional music and instruments.”
Wilson’s new album, Tri Am, was featured in a recent concert entitled "10th Anniversary Culture Show'' in Hanoi to mark the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership.
Wilson's endeavors have not only enriched his artistic journey, but have also served as a bridge between cultures, fostering appreciation and understanding of both Vietnamese and international musical heritage. Music is a universal language capable of breaking down cultural barriers, fostering a sense of shared humanity, and promoting global cultural integration.
He said: “I definitely want to create more compositions based on Vietnamese instruments, and do more projects and collaborations with Vietnamese artists. I also want to organize concerts nationwide, reaching diverse populations, including those residing in the mountainous areas of the North and the fishermen along the southern coast. Music is for everyone, and I want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience and enjoy it. I believe there is immense value that I can learn from their unique perceptions of music.”
In the quest for harmony, countries around the globe have adopted initiatives that acknowledge the importance of culture as a unifying and relatable means of achieving this goal. Cultural integration not only enriches our lives, but also creates a more inclusive and interconnected global community. Artists like Wilson, who display exceptional passion and commitment, deserve public encouragement and recognition to motivate their artistic journeys.