Where do you travel?


Graham Sutcliffe and Vietnamese classical music

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 . Last updated Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:00

  • View
  • Share
  • Comment
  • 0
  • 4
  • 0

Graham Sutcliffe is a talented British conductor who spent 23 years living in Vietnam and has significant contribution to development of Vietnamese classical music. He also has left deep impression on Vietnamese musicians and audiences.

Many classical music lovers in Vietnam has been surprised by hearing British conductor Graham Sutcliffe to leave Vietnam after 23 years of being devoted to the classical music scene in Vietnam. Conductor Graham Sutcliffe and Vietnam National Opera and Ballet (VNOB) organized a successful concert one again at Hanoi Opera House. In title “Aspects of Love”, this final performance by Mr. Graham Sutcliffe before leaving Vietnam with a night full energy and emotion. Perhaps, this is one of the most memorable performances for both artists and audiences. As the final farewell at the end of the show, the choir and orchestra surprised Graham with Hallelujah. This is an unexpected gift for the talented conductor who has spent 2 decades dedicating to Vietnam classical music.

Conductor Graham Sutcliffe is renowned in Vietnamese classical music for programming concert of equitable and professional quality. He changed from an English teacher to getting in the classical music in Vietnam. He was a teaching music. He studied music in the UK as a teacher. When he came to Vietnam, he thought he would teach English again. And then he got to Vietnam, he discovered one wonderful music. After chatting with the Director of Ho Chi Minh Music Academy about his passion for music, he was invited to play violin in the orchestra. And he also took more conducting. Later, he gathered some artists together and started performing in Ho Chi Minh City once a month for about 3 years. When the Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra was founded, he was invited to play viola. He is one of the founding members of the Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra.

He has been with Vietnamese classical music since the first days, so he thinks that it is a huge development. Just talking about Hanoi, over the last 10 years the level of the opera and ballet has been much better.  Graham Sutcliffe contributes to promoting the opera in Vietnam, because he thinks that every country should develop this cultural aspect. If we look at other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, they all have very strong Western classical music. Of course, they also have a strong local tradition as well. He does not think the local culture has been suffered, because Western music has come to their countries. For example, Pop music in Vietnam is written by Vietnamese composers, song by Vietnamese singers in using the western harmonic system. It has also influence of traditional Vietnamese culture.    

With the strong relationship between the great conductor Graham and Vietnamese instrumentalists, his leaving is the huge lost every member of the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet. With his own passion for music and great love for life in Vietnam, Graham inspires everyone he meets. He left deep impression both a talented conductor and as a close friend. Graham’s style fits well with the Vietnamese musicians. As he lived here for longtime, he understands each of them, which is a great advantage when they come to work together.

After a 23-year journey to classical music in Vietnam, Graham finally decided to return his home country, but forever in the heart of Vietnamese musicians the image of hard working artist, a close friend will never fade.  Though some of them have not worked with Graham for years, they wanted to come and said goodbye. Sharing the passion of music with Graham is an experience that they will never forget.  Every party must come to an end, soon Graham and his friends will have to part. But the bond in music and life will keep their soul close, no matter how big geographical distance between them.

He learned Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City, at the Ho Chi Minh City University, now known as the University of Social Sciences and Humanities. But he has probably lived in Hanoi long enough to acquire a Northern accent. Regarding life in Hanoi, he has mentioned that he loves Vietnamese food. The other day, he went to eat grilled fish with some friends from the orchestra and the chorus. After that they had another farewell party, they had goat hotpot. He also likes rice vermicelli and fried tofu served with shrimp paste.

The first time he came to Hanoi in 1993 or 1994. At that time, the city was quiet and those days, there were no cars, just a lot of bicycles. He was quite surprised how quiet city of Hanoi to be. No.51 Tran Hung Dao is headquarters of several associations including the Musician Association, the Film and Theater Association as well. He often went to 51 Tran Hung Dao to talk to the heads of the associations about his projects. The Hanoi Opera House is the place he will remember the most for the rest of his life. It is very meaningful to conduct there, to stand there and meet many famous people. It has been a very interesting experience. He has been lived longer than any other places in his life including England. Now he has been lived in Vietnam for 23 years, so the country has become an important part in his life.


Source: VTV4 –

Download App X
Download App X