Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Final Post

Day 11 We spent the morning recovering from the activity from the day before, then was picked up Lan to do a bit of shopping and some sightseeing. We attended a water puppet show something that is unique to Vietnam. The performance included an English language description of some legendary characters and live musicians playing traditional Vietnamese music. Dinner was at French-infused Asian restaurant where our hosts knew the owners quite well. The wife is Israeli and their restaurant has been a starting place for several great chefs. We sat at a bar and watched the preparations . . .…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 10

Jan. 5 Concert Day.  We leave the hotel at 8 AM for a 9 AM rehearsal. There is a huge poster outside the opera house with Do Phuong Nhi and my photos on it. We are early so there are very few people around, but fortunately we know the way to the dressing room area and manage to claim one of them. I wander onto the stage, which is still being put together as well as the shell being put up. The stage is huge very much large enough for an opera turntable for sets when a theatrical performance is…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 9

January 4 It is the day before the concert and there is still much work to be done primarily on the Dvorak Symphony. We've arranged to get to the rehearsal hall by 11:30 so we can meet up with one of our summer MME in conducting students who is currently teaching in Myanmar and has completed one summer and one semester on-line in our program thus far. Lee Pophal is on break from his job and is touring Vietnam with his sister. He makes arrangements to meet us for lunch that day and Thang and Lan take us to another…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 8

January 3 Another morning rehearsal this time back on the Copland which was a bit rusty from the weekend's activities. The music came back soon enough allowing us to go through the entire piece and then the concerto. The Dvorak was more challenging and during the break the personnel manager came to me and told be that because of exams at the Academy of Music, two oboes and the pianist could not make tomorrow AM's rehearsal. Thus he asked me if starting at 1:30 would be adequate. Then the Assistant Concertmaster asked if we could get more string section rehearsal…
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Maestro Wes Kenney to Conduct the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra

Fort Collins Symphony Music Director Wes Kenney will conduct the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra (VNSO) at the Hanoi Opera House on January 5, 2018 as part of an ongoing international exchange program. Maestro Kenney will conduct the VNSO’s performance of Copland’s Suite from Rodeo and the Dvořák Symphony No. 6. Violinist Do Phoung Nhi will play the Bruch Violin Concerto she performed for Fort Collins in May 2016. The exchange has been several years in the planning and took place two seasons ago when Do Phoung Nhi was introduced to Fort Collins audiences. Her parents Le Hoang Lan and Do…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 7

After three days off from this concert repertoire, it is time to renew our preparations for the performance on Friday. This is one of the hardest working orchestras that Leslie and I have ever witnessed. After the two double rehearsals on my concert repertoire last Thursday and Friday, the VNSO had rehearsals on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for Mondays New Year's Night performance at the opera house. They had Tuesday morning off and then start again this afternoon with me. They will rehearse every day this week, perform on Friday, then maybe get a day off (depending on who you…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 6

Jan. 1. Happy New Year! For western tastes there will be no parades or football this year. Instead we use the day to continue to recover from our colds and take a walk alongside the Westlake. Many businesses are open on this day such as laundry and convenience stores. Others are closed (pharmacies and banks.) Cafes and coffee houses are certainly doing an excellent business. Restaurants the same. It appears that just about anyone can open up a business by hanging out "a shingle." They range from those selling wares off the back of a bicycle, to barbers setting up…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 5

Dec. 31. After Leslie has Pho and I opt for an omelet for breakfast, we are picked up by Lan and Thang and driven an hour out of town. Because it is Sunday and a three day weekend, the traffic is much lighter than the beehive experience we've had thus far. However, it also means people are moving faster and one of the things we observe is that stopping only happens when you are forced to stop, meaning you'll hit something if you don't. Right of way belongs to the individual. Yes there are crosswalks on the streets, but they…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 4

Dec. 30 Catching any kind of a bug on an international trip is not fun, but compound that with two days of double rehearsals in humidity, and a day off was needed to get back on the mend. Thus most of Saturday was spent inside the hotel. The Hanoi Sheraton seems like a grande old dame with rather square architecture augmented with Asian touches, but in fact built in 2003. The marble shines and the staff is extremely friendly and attentive. There is an elegance, though it does show some wear and tear from over the years. The fixtures in…
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Maestro Kenney’s Adventures in Vietnam – Part 3

Dec. 29 The day began the same as the previous day with another international breakfast in the hotel and then the 30 minute drive to rehearsal. On the way to the hall, we passed several Starbucks, Coffee Beans, and a chain called Highlands Coffee that is one of the locals favorites. Coffee houses are ubiquitous in this city and Vietnamese coffee is thick and strong. They drink it with warmed heated sweet milk (might be what we consider condensed) and it is delicious. Tea with honey and lime is another regular warm drink. A coffee house is next door to…
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