Friday, July 23, 2010

Hue and the Musical Culture & Perfume River

We arrived in Hue on July 21, 2010.  The pace of this trip is wearing on everyone.  Some of the evidence is that too many people were getting sick, especially in Cambodia.  Hue is located right in the middle of Vietnam.  It is also the city that had experienced a traumatic episode of the Tet Offensive.  Today, the city is completely rebuilt, and its charms are very apparent.

There was a presentation by the College of Arts, Hue University.  We got both a presentation on traditional Vietnamese music and also lacquer arts.  What was clear to me was that the entire program was geared towards practicality.  You were dealing with high end and low end issues.  Some of it was also geared towards tourists.  Essentially, in Vietnam, there seems to be this systematic push towards market economy.  The music however was very well performed.

We were again treated to the standard tourist adventure of a trip on the Perfume River with a musical performance.  So, we got the theoretical explanation of the role of the School of Fine Arts, and then we saw the application of the music to the tourism industry.

So, as you can tell, there seems to be a purpose to all the education in Vietnam.  It differs significantly from perhaps other schools of music like USC, which tends to focus more on jazz and classical music or CalArts which tends to focus on world music.  In the end, you are asked to participate in a ritual of sending off candles in a little paper boat.  

The women set up the entire thing during the performance.  Of course, we all tipped them a good sum for bothering to get on a boat with a bunch of professors who are getting a crash course in the tourism industry of Vietnam and general exposure to Vietnamese society.   You are supposed to make a wish with these things.  I  made a wish, but it would be foolish to tell you.  That's why wishes are secrets.