Tri Nguyen. An artist from elsewhere.
Tri begins studying the piano at age five and a half in Vietnam with French-trained teachers. After graduation from the Music Conservatory of Saigon, he continues his studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris with great teachers such as Jacques Lagarde, himself a former student of Marguerite Long and Clara Haskil; then Ramzi Yassa, concert virtuoso trained in Moscow, with whom he discovers the great Russian school.
Born into a literati family in South Vietnam strongly attached to its ancestral culture, his parents believe that studying the piano is not enough for his musical education, and find an old zither master with whom he begins to study the instrument. Zither master Hai Bieu proves to be one of the last musicians belonging to the old school of Vietnamese music.
Thus, from an early age, Tri Nguyen divides his time between two cultures, two musical worlds. The piano represents his family’s opening to the Western world; the zither reflects the importance of the ancient traditions of Vietnam.
The young musician receives a multicultural education: International School for his studies, private lessons on rites and customs with old Vietnamese scholars at home. His parents aspire to make of him the perfect Confucian “gentleman” who lives with his time: the four major arts: music, chess, literature, painting, are the fundamental teachings Tri Nguyen receives in addition to his daily curriculum at school.
In his spare time, Tri paints for his pleasure. The technique of Chinese painting implies that each gesture for each stroke is codified, gestures repeated thousands of times until the desired result is acquired ( it is the same for the piano and zither ). His ethereal paintings are masterpieces of poetry and grace, behind which a perfect mastery of the brush and ink does not betray the complexity. It is the same for Tri Nguyen’s piano virtuosity: technical efforts are not visible.
Tri is the only concert musician in the world to master both the piano and the dan-tranh (Vietnamese zither). His concerts are unique moments where the piano repertoire is followed by melodies from the distant past of Vietnam, revived by Tri’s passionate desire to preserve and promote his ancestral musical heritage. Tri still uses the old annotation system for his zither scores, where words are used instead of notes, unlike his western music training. Unfortunately, this annotation is no longer used and has been replaced by the Western music system.
Tri has performed in Vietnam, the United States and Europe. In France, he was invited to perform at the closing ceremony for the Aubervilliers World Music Festival; the 17th Cinema & Theatres Festival in Bobigny, and has aired on various radios such as BBC Radio 3, M21 Spain, Concerzender FM Netherlands, France Culture, Protestant Frequency, Radio RMA, Radio RCF , Demain TV France, etc.. For the premiere of an electro-rock group album in Paris, he appeared as guest artist: the audience was thrilled and overwhelmed at the end of his performance. During the summer season, Tri is a permanent guest artist for Music Festivals in the department of Charente/France, including that of Paillé. In 2012, Tri Nguyen also inaugurated the Festival “A Village for Artists” in Isère: during three marathon days, he participated in numerous events such as “cinema / live piano”,” poetry/zither”, finishing with a sold-out concert.
Backed by his many successes and encouragements from the audience, Tri Nguyen launched his debut album, “Consonnances “, combining the ancient homeland melodies of the dan-tranh with the Western harmonies of a classical string quartet. The press and publications as diverse as Songlines, Voix des Arts and World Music Central praise “Consonnances” for the beauty of its conception and execution. In Vietnam, the press describes Tri Nguyen as a musician who revives and places Vietnamese Music on international stages.
Summer 2015, “Consonnances” received the USA Global Music Award’s Gold Medal for World Music and was chosen as one of the top ten albums of 2015. In November the same year, the Album received another Award from AKADEMIA USA for Best Album (Instrumental/Classical category).
May 2016, Tri released his new EP “A Journey Between Worlds”, an exciting new chapter in World Music fusion, combining for the first time the exotic ancient melodies of Vietnam together with the propulsive rhythms and seductive modes of the Arabic Music; an extraordinary musical odyssey from the Mekong to the Maghreb.
Tri released his third album “Beyond Borders” in 2017, where his music reaches out even further to new sounds and musical universes. The dan-tranh once again appears in unexpected fusions such as with Corsican Polyphonic Singers, Scottish Bagpipes etc.
Beyond Borders was selected for the first ballot Grammy Awards 2018 and is nominated for the finals in World Beat Category to the 2018 IMA (Independent Music Awards).
February 2019, ARC Music Productions UK, a branch of Naxos International, released a compilation of Tri’s first 3 albums “The Art of the Vietnamese Zither”. Acclaimed worldwide, the album entered radio charts in Canada and the UK.
Early 2020, Tri’s latest album “Winds of Home” was released. This is a collection of centuries old Folk Songs from his homeland, Vietnam, songs that his mother taught him, that Tri has re-created, re-structured and re-invented. Recorded with other Vietnamese musicians, the dan-tranh again holds the main lead, accompanied by violin, guitar, double bass and Vietnamese percussion.
Aside his 5 albums already released, Nguyen has also collaborated with musicians from around the world in various disciplines: “Viento” (single) with Grant Torres -Spain;” Walking” (single) with Graeme Drum -Canada; “The Fourth Hour” (single) with Roberto Diana – Italy.
Tri is currently working on different projects simultaneously, with authorities in the music industry such as Argentinian 2015 Grammy Winner & Producer Emilio D. Miler; renowned singer Valerie Ghent from New York; and many more…
Since 2016, Tri is voting member of the Academy Awards/NARAS.