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A family of bamboo flute artists (Feb 19, 2003)

People’s Artist Luong Kim Vinh and his son Luong Hung Viet have travelled throughout Europe, US and the Africa to perform songs with their simple bamboo flutes. Artist Kim Vinh told Countryside Today newspaper about their career.

It may be Kim Vinh's unusual flute which attracts so many people to his performances. A normal flute has a pitch up to five but artist Vinh made it up to 21 so he can produce every tone and also combine with a modern orchestra. He said, “With just one invention, I was honoured the title of People’s Artist. Last October, when my son and I were in Russia to join the Vietnam Culture Week, the Russian Minister of Culture asked me to show her the strange flute which could create sounds of winds, rain falls, cat meowing and dog barking. After my explanations, the Russian minister asked me to teach Russian artists and music researchers.”

Artist Vinh has never attended any musical course. He liked playing the flute when he was a little boy. Having known how to play the bamboo flute, he was selected to an art troupe in Lao Cai. As a member of the ensemble, he bought books to teach himself the music. His performances always bear the character of ethnic minority people of Mong, Tay and Nung. “In order to learn the art, I had to overcome many difficulties. In the hard time of subsidy, nobody wanted to go into the hamlets to learn the art from artisans. My troupe went to give performances throughout the province. All 20 people had to walk with two horses to carry musical instruments and food, so everyone was tired after such a trip. But I still went into hamlets of Mong ethnic people to learn the art. I had to work with them and mixed with their life to ask them to show me the art. They listened to my playing the flute and whenever they found anything wrong in the sounds they readjusted the flute for me. Then I knew how to readjust the flute and I improved it so as to be able to express all seven basic notes of music. Inhabitants in remote areas were my best teachers."

Artist Vinh lives in a small house amid the bigger houses in the centre of Lao Cai town. But he never deems himself a poor person. He said, “Everywhere in my house are valuable musical instruments of which even the former General Secretary Do Muoi had to say 'These are national cultural heritages.' The Russian Culture minister once touched my flute with great respect. I am proud of my assets. My son, Viet, also thinks the same as I. In 2000, he was presented the Red Star prize, an award for outstanding young people, and was immediately honoured the Artist of Merit title for his flute playing. Two of my granddaughters Vu Thanh Hang, ten years old, and Vu Thang Hang, eight years old, have won many gold medals at art festivals."

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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