Holy Cross Presents a Spiritual Vietnamese Musical Experience ‘Three Rivers, One Source’

November 13th, 2013 by Sara Bovat ’14


Phong Nguyen

“Three Rivers, One Source,” a performance of traditional Vietnamese music, will be held on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in Brooks Concert Hall at the College of the Holy Cross. Under the direction of Phong Nguyen, world-renowned performer and scholar of Vietnamese traditional music, the program presents a remarkable array of musical offerings: folk songs, court music, ethnic music, poetry chanting, instrumental music, and musical theater. The event is sponsored by the department of sociology and anthropology; the Asian studies program; Montserrat’s Global Society  cluster, part of the College’s universal first-year program; the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture; and the music department. It is free and open to the public.

The selections range from lyrical to playful, providing an introduction to traditional Vietnamese music, which is the goal of the event according to organizer Diane Fox, visiting assistant professor of anthropology. Fox, who also teaches in the Montserrat’s Global Society Cluster, says that “Three Rivers, One Source” represents the echoes of reconciliation for a country that has been in war. “There have been divisions and fighting, but this music takes us back before the French colonial divisions and brings us forward beyond the fighting of the last century, bringing us together,” said Fox.

Nguyen was a 1997 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow and has received recognition from both the United States and Vietnam for his work in preserving the heritage of Vietnamese Music. He has taught at Kent State, UCLA, the University of Washington, and in Thailand. Nguyen received both Ohio Heritage Fellowship and Vietnam’s National Honors Award in 2004. Currently, he is the executive director of the Institute for Vietnamese Music in Kent, Ohio and visiting professor of ethnomusicology at the College of Music, Mahasarakham University, Thailand. He is the author of “From Rice Paddies and Temple Yards: Traditional Music of Viet Nam” (World Music Press, with Patricia Shehan Campbell, 1990), and “Searching for a Niche: Vietnamese Music at Home in America” (Nhac Viet, 1995).

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