The Etude-tableau Op. 33 No. 6 "The Snow Storm" by Russian composer Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff was performed by Anh Minh at one of two online concerts she organized, which was broadcast on September 2 on YouTube. Minh said the song’s challenging octave leaps, chromatic scales, and fast tempo, like a “snow storm”, reflect how lives were turned upside down by the current COVID-19 outbreak, which led to social distancing in many places.
“This pandemic is like a big snow storm that we don’t know when it’s going to end," Minh shared, "I just want to deliver a message that we will always be able to get through it by holding hands and helping each other out. In both concerts, all the compositions that we chose have something to do with encouraging people to think of a happy day, to stay optimistic. That’s the key message that we want to deliver to the audience.”
|Anh Minh is from class 12 Russian, Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted. (Photo: Phan Anh Minh)
Anh Minh and her friend Trung Duc have been studying piano for 10 years at the Vietnam National Academy of Music. During social distancing, they witnessed beautiful stories of people helping each other, and wanted to help others with their music.
Learning about the Zero-Dong Share Mart chain which opened in Hanoi’s Hoai Duc district to provide free food and other necessities to disadvantaged people during the pandemic, the two students decided to establish a “Vinhomes Thang Long Music Community” connecting young musicians in their neighborhood, and organized two online concerts to raise donation for the Zero-Dong Share Mart.
“We used the voice of music to encourage everybody to stay optimistic and call for charity," Minh elaborated, "I think it’s a small gesture in this very big community, but it’s a very meaningful and noble action that students like us can do.”
|Anh Minh and Trung Duc in their first concert. (Photo: screenshots)
In the first concert, four musicians performed, including Anh Minh and Trung Duc. All the music was recorded at their homes, following social distancing protocols. They edited the video, promoted the event on social media and on their website, and live streamed the event on YouTube, doing most of the work themselves. The experience was quite unforgettable for Trung Duc.
“The problem before the first concert was large," he said, "The network somehow crashed, so even though the video was successfully exported, we couldn’t upload it to YouTube. We were kind of panicked and went off to ask neighbors and friends if they had a stable wifi connection. In the end, we did manage to get some help from our parents. And fortunately, the uploading wasn’t disturbed by any specific issue. I even started to think of delaying or posting an apology on social media, but lucky me!”
|Trung Duc has been studying piano for almost 10 years. (Photo: Nguyen Trung Duc)
Their first concert drew quite a large audience, which resulted in a 1,300 USD donation to Zero-dong Share Mart. Overjoyed by their initial success, Anh Minh and Trung Duc decided to do another concert, this time with the participation of young musicians from around Hanoi.
Performing the ABEGG variations Op. 1 by German composer Robert Schumann, secondary student Nguyen Duc Kien said: “I was more than happy to accept Minh and Duc’s invitation to join the concert. I hope that in the future, I will be able to organize this kind of event to help people in need.”
|Duc Kien performs in the second concert. (Photo: Nguyen Duc Kien)
Duc Kien and a dozen other students joined the concert with various piano, violin, vocal, and drum performances. Dang Thi Van Anh of Hanoi came across the show by accident and found it very impressive.
“I was so surprised at the quality of the concert," she said, "The young musicians performed beautifully and professionally. They are very talented and have kind hearts. This was a brilliant idea to entertain people during social distancing and raise money for charity at the same time. I think this kind of meaningful activity should be encouraged.”
|Young drummer Duong Tuan Phuong performs in the concerts. (Photo: Duong Tuan Phuong)
Vu Minh Ly, co-founder of the Zero-Dong Share Mart chain, shared the results after the second concert premiered on September 11: “We received 2,600 USD in total, which is equivalent to 3 tons of rice. The students’ effort has really paid off, and I’m very impressed at the tween and teen musicians for offering kindness with their own talent.”
Anh Minh and Trung Duc have been inspired by the public support.
“I attained experience, great memories, and lots of valuable lessons from this," Duc shared, "It showed how capable I am of creating something. It showed how capable people the same age as me are of contributing something to the national and international battle against this deadly virus. It showed that people can be united, and that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”
“A week ago, I got to go to a hospital to give patients some food and clothes bought with the money that we raised," Anh Minh said, "Seeing them suffering from COVID-19 was such a different experience for me. It gives me the motivation to keep doing things like this. I just want to say that every little thing we do can help change the lives of thousands of people. So please don’t hesitate to take action!”
Check out the students' performances below: