Nguyen Minh Duc

The name Pham Thuy Dung was on the lips of music enthusiasts and musicians alike during the second half of 2019. Dung was invited to sing by established stars Thanh Lam and Tung Duong in their concerts, where she was showered with praise. She also held a live concert called “Trang Hat” (The Singing Moon) at the Hanoi Opera House accompanied by the Sun Symphony Orchestra (SSO), one of Vietnam’s top orchestras. And to top it off, she made her official debut with her first album, the classical crossover work Moon.

Dung’s rise to fame has had an element of fate about it. Had it not been for the “Sao Mai” singing competition, where six years ago she met judge Tung Duong, Dung’s singing career may have been completely different. At that time, she had chosen to pursue folk music, but the keen and experienced ears of Duong heard the classical potential in the young singer and advised her to try the genre.

Dung praises two great figures of the opera world for their masterful technique and graceful performance styles: Angela Gheorghiu and Diana Damrau. The singer said she aspires to emulate these divas but at the same time she has not forgotten her roots in folk songs. At her “Trang Hat” concert, Dung sang a classic song about her hometown, Ha Tinh, called “Mot khuc tam tinh cua nguoi Ha Tinh” (“A Song from the Hearts of Ha Tinh People.”) Upon hearing her singing, pianist Thai Linh, daughter of the song’s composer, Nguyen Van Ty, expressed her amazement, saying: “How does anyone sing so wonderfully? The younger generation these days is so skilled. I’m blown away.”

As a singer that had gone far in a folk singing competition, Dung stepped out of her comfort zone and into the classical world, where there are numerous peaks to conquer. With the help of domestic and international teachers, she has refined her techniques so that she could utilize her natural gifts properly while also doing justice to Vietnamese songs. Beyond technical skill, the key element to success is the very soul of the artist.

On Moon, Dung and her collaborators have carefully selected classical tracks well-suited for her singing as well as those specifically composed for her that highlight her voice. The producer of Moon, musician Duong Cam, said that Dung faced difficulties in tackling these challenging songs since they vastly differ from today’s pop music. The singer had to apply highly complex vocal techniques while making them appear effortless. 

And Dung met everyone’s expectations, as Moon became one of the most original and worthwhile albums of the year. Through the hardships and challenges, Dung’s voice has emerged as gentle, lovely and pure as moonlight.