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Mar 28, 2024 / 16:18

Hanoi, a city of music in the making

The proliferation of music events gives Hanoi a new look: a musical city.

The Hanoi people's love for music, the preservation of traditional genres as well as the openness to modern ones, and the sprouting of music venues in the capital can help make Hanoi  "the city of music events".

Frenzy of music

 The atmosphere of the Sol 8 Live Stage. Photo: Hoang Nam 

Wandering around the Hoan Kiem Lake area on weekends, the passion for music of different generations of Hanoians is plain to see. The streets, normally filled with vehicles and honking horns, are now closed to traffic and become a stage for young people with lively dance flash mobs that get onlookers grooving. On the sidewalk across the street from the Hanoi Post Office, a group of elderly performers open their violin cases and play a few romantic tunes about the old Hanoi with passion and spontaneity. It would be an indescribable experience to listen to them here on a fall morning.

A few hundred yards away, a street flutist plays a gentle yet profound melody. On another part of the sidewalk, a young man with only a guitar and a raw singing voice still captivates a group of attentive listeners. As night falls, the area becomes more and more vibrant with the performance of street musicians. In particular, those periodically held at the octagonal pavilion in Ly Thai To Flower Garden, Nam Huong Communal House and King Le Thai To Statue have become familiar rendezvous for devotees of traditional music such as Chau van, Xam, or Cheo.

 A traditional Vietnamese art performance on the pedestrian street of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Photo: Cong Hung

In addition to these music street stages, music lovers in Hanoi today have many other options to satisfy their appetites. The Hanoi Opera House is considered a "music sanctuary" with its recently opened Music Garden. The Vietnam National Academy of Music is a popular destination for symphony lovers. The Friendship Labor Cultural Palace attracts audiences with lyrical music nights. Meanwhile, lively concerts at the Vietnam National Convention Center entice thousands of spectators.

Adding to the diversity of modern Hanoi's music life are countless cozy music hangouts, each with its unique decor and vibe. Some long-standing names include Trinh Ca Tea Room for Trinh Cong Son's music fans, Trixie Cafe & Lounge, Sweet Home Lounge, Sol 8 Live Stage, and many others. These places help you eliminate the tiredness and pressure of life and allow tea and coffee drinkers to immerse themselves in sweet relaxation. You might even meet your soul mate or like-minded friends there, who knows?

 The Xam folk singing performance at the Hong Ha Theater in Hanoi. Photo: VNA

According to Nguyen Phuong Hoa, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, public art in Hanoi is booming and diverse in terms of type, scale and space, being on par with any city in the world. Especially in the field of music, in addition to traditional genres, there are numerous modern music festivals that feature various kinds of frenzied street art activities.

Building a Hanoi music brand

Around the world, there are many cities that have successfully built their brands through music. Los Angeles, Havana, Berlin or Manchester are considered to be the ones that "live with music" and that everyone who loves excitement wants to visit once in their life. In Havana (Cuba), for example, music is played everywhere, from small apartment windows to street corners, and drivers and waitresses often sing while they work. Vienna (Austria), dubbed the "Music Capital of the World" and the cradle of European classical music, boasts about 300 famous theaters and concert halls, making tourists feel like they are "listening" to music everywhere, truly entering the world of music.

Young Hanoi audience at the Monsoon Music Festival 2023. Photo courtesy of the event organizers

With passion and creativity, the people of Hanoi are gradually transforming the capital into a music city. Today's Hanoi is the destination for world-renowned bands and artists. High-profile international music events held annually, such as the Monsoon Music Festival, Vietnam Connection Music Festival, European Music Festival, or Touch The Music Festival, have featured bands such as Scorpions (Germany), Kodaline (Ireland), Bond (UK), ADOY and Hyukoh (both South Korea), as well as singer Joss Stone (England) and DJ Los Frequencies (Belgium). The HAY Glamping Music Festival also brought legendary boy bands such as The Moffatts, A1, 911 and Blue to Vietnam, followed by former Boyzone singer Ronan Keatinga and South Korean hip-hop legend Epik High.

In particular, the Monsoon Music Festival has turned into a cultural brand of the capital city. In 2017, the organizing committee submitted a plan to turn the festival into an official annual event of Hanoi City for five years. They aim to make it a prominent cultural event in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

 Monsoon Music Festival 2023.

Today, the Monsoon Music Festival is on the global music festival map and is an official member of MusiConnect Asia, which links major music festivals throughout Asia to promote musical and artistic exchange among countries in the region.

Blackpink's groundbreaking concert in Hanoi in July last year proved that the capital, and the country in general, is becoming one of the most sought-after destinations for international stars.  From a tourism perspective, Vu Quynh Anh, CEO of Hoang Minh Travel, noted that the performance of the record-breaking K-pop girl group helped to identify Hanoi as a culturally vibrant destination for music tourists.

Music is Hanoi's long-time love and a special bond that brings generations together. With diverse music spaces and activities attracting more and more visitors, Hanoi is well-positioned to join the UNESCO Cities of Music in the future.