More than 100 members of Vietnam's inaugural community choir, Green Wind, came together to create beautiful harmony as they sang "Look at the World," a sacred choral piece composed by John Rutter. This moving performance, which celebrated the beauty of Mother Nature and expressed love for humanity, served as a standout moment during a recent ceremony held in Hanoi, commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United Kingdom, who are working together to address global challenges like climate change.
"Music is a lot like the wind – although we can't see or touch it, we can always feel its presence when it arrives. Back in the day, I used to have quite a bit of concern for the environment, and that's what drove me to initiate Green Wind. My aim was to bring it into the community and inspire people to adopt eco-friendly living, get involved in projects like ditching plastic and planting trees. Initially it was all about being "green," but then it dawned on me that "green" represents not just a color but a spirit of sustainability, a way of life that values our planet and embodies the youthful energy and vitality of humanity."
The reason behind choosing "Green Wind" as the choir's name, as explained by its founder Nguyen Hai Yen, goes beyond just promoting environment- conscious living. Having graduated from the Music Academy of Vietnam, Yen has a deep passion for spreading the joy of music to a broader audience, believing that music resides within each and every one of us.
Yen said, "When you play a musical instrument, you're interacting with an external object, but the human voice is a one-of-a-kind instrument that we all carry within us. It's always there, and we must learn how to use it, appreciate its subtleties, and, naturally, enjoy its beauty. Unlike many other musical forms, choirs bring people together in a communal experience, allowing you to sing just about anywhere and easily connect with others."
|Nguyen Hai Yen, founder of Green Wind Choir (Photo: Green Wind Choir)
Established in 2019, Green Wind Choir is an inclusive choir that welcomes people of all ages, genders, nationalities, and singing backgrounds. The choir has grown to over 200 members, ranging in age from 6 to 85, and they gather for practice every Sunday at the Erato School of Music and Performing Arts in Hanoi. The choir's activities are funded by its members, who cover their own fees.
In its early days, Green Wind encouraged family members to join together, fostering stronger family bonds through music. 11-year-old Le Bao Han and her father Le Tuan Duc used to spend their weekends at home, but now they find immense joy in attending Green Wind's practice sessions together.
Han said, "I know about Green Wind because my uncle is a member. He introduced it to me. I went to the tryouts and became a member. I’ve been here for three years already. The thing that makes me the happiest here is that I can sing and meet other people."
Han's father, Tuan Duc, said, "When you both share a deep passion for music, it's easy to bond. When your eyes meet, smiles naturally light up your faces, bringing a serene feeling without even having to think about it. Here, I don't just enjoy music from the outside, I also awaken the music that's within me, letting it flow freely."
|85-year-old Nguyen Thi Tuyet Tam is the oldest member of the choir (Photo: Green Wind Choir)
At the heart of Green Wind is the remarkable 85-year-old woman Nguyen Thi Tuyet Tam. Her vibrant and active spirit aligns perfectly with the choir's mission. Tam stumbled upon the choir at a stage in life when many are slowing down and taking it easy. But rather than settle into a quieter routine, Tam experienced a remarkable rejuvenation through singing. Joining the choir was like stepping into a time machine for her, a magic portal that whisked her back to the days of her youth.
She said that Green Wind is like one big, happy family. It's the kind of family many people wish for, but it's not always easy to come by. When we are part of the choir, our voices fill the air with all sorts of songs – English, Italian, French, even Russian!
"Younger members who happen to be pretty good with foreign languages help us out by translating and teaching us. Learning foreign languages isn't just about picking up new words. It also keeps our minds sharp and clear, like a bright, sunny day. Being a part of Green Wind makes me feel like I'm in a cool breeze – always refreshed and happy, "she added.
|For Ngo Huyen My Anh, being in a choir is one of the most cherished memories in her life.
The Green Wind Choir is a heartwarming musical community that doesn't just cater to the dreams of elders like Mrs. Tam but young talents like Ngo Huyen My Anh and Dang Tran Phuc, for whom music is their life's breath.
"If I had to choose one word to describe the Green Wind Choir, it would be ‘happiness’. After every practice and concert, I feel happiness and a sense of belonging that’s kind of hard to explain,"Huyen Anh said.
Tran Phuc said, "Before I came to this choir, I usually sang by myself, in the bathroom, or on the street when there’s nobody around. I don’t have any skill. When I came to this, I was like, OMG, wow, this is very interesting. Now, I’m learning how to sing better. You don’t have to be very good at singing. When you sing in a choir, someone else will fill in the place where you don’t do well."
|A performance in "Green Christmas, an inaugural concert of Green Wind Choir
In 2020, the Green Wind Choir hosted their inaugural concert, titled "Green Christmas," which drew an audience of 700 people. Among them, 164 children were special guests invited from social protection centers in Hanoi. Their second concert, "Green Passport 2022," was a hit, taking place over two nights in Hanoi and one night in Ha Long, attracting nearly 2,000 attendees. Among these, 500 special guests were from various social protection facilities in Hanoi and Quang Ninh.
Green Wind didn't limit the joy of music to our own families. We extended our thoughts to those who might not even know what a choir is or afford to attend a concert. We reached out to different centers, provided sponsorships for children, and warmly welcomed them to our performances. In our community, it's not just about purchasing tickets for personal enjoyment; it's also about supporting others to experience the magic of music. This truly reflects the Vietnamese spirit of unity and collective support, where we come together to benefit everyone.
Trieu Thi Thanh, a young talent hailing from the Child Care Sponsorship Facility in Quang Ninh province, was given a remarkable opportunity to showcase her vocal talents as a member of the Green Wind Community Choir. Her inspiring journey from the sponsorship facility to the choir demonstrates the transformative power of music and community support.
She said, "I'm thrilled to be a part of the choir and to learn how to sing. This is my first experience with singing on a stage, and I'm really looking forward to performing in more places in the future."
|(Photo: Green Wind Choir)
The Green Wind Choir performed “The Circle of Green” in Da Nang last month and will perform in Hạ Long on November 11. They will perform around 20 works, including timeless songs from classic films such as “When You Believe” from the film “The Prince of Egypt”, “How Far I'll Go from Moana” and “The Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”, and “Another Day of Sun” from “La La Land”.
Conductor Hai Yen didn’t initially set out with a grand mission for the Green Wind Choir. But, as the choir has grown, he has begun to feel a greater sense of purpose.
As life gets more advanced and modern, it seems like we often end up feeling lonelier. That's where the idea of having spiritual companions becomes crucial. Green Wind, a symbol of something pure and revitalizing, encourages us to have faith in the magic of goodness and simplicity. We want to set out on a meaningful journey, exploring various destinations guided by the soothing tunes of music, all in pursuit of an authentic inner happiness. Think of it as planting a happiness tree – if we nurture its roots, it will eventually provide a cozy shade of joy for everyone to relish.