|Date: Saturday, November 03, 2001|
|Time: 7:30PM - 11PM|
|Place: Hardie Auditorium, Palmer Hall Rhodes College|
Memphis Event Report
A beautiful campus, a perfect sized auditorium for "nhac thinh phong", a beautiful stage decoration, a great sound system, a delightful sight of the ladies in their uniform: ao dai, and a perfect performance of KhanhLy, Dieu Hang, Uyen Thi, Ngoc Bao, Anh Lan, Duy Truong, VietLy, Vo Vuong, Huu Luong, Duc Nguyen, and Chuong Le. The stage was so alive and vibrant. The music and poetry was very touching. These are things people said after attending "Dem Tho Nhac: THUONG TINH CA" on Saturday, November 3, 2001 at Hardie Auditorium, Rhodes College. The program was impeccable in my opinion (of course I am a little biased here). We had a great time despite the size of the audience, roughly 200. Everyone enjoyed the program and complimented on how well it was organized.
Now the report on behind the scene … there were a few unexpected difficulties we faced before the show, just like any event. We were prepared, but could not anticipate problems with details like spot light, stage decoration, computer hook up etc. but in the end, everything just seemed perfect. I spent almost the entire day on Saturday speeding up and down the streets of Memphis picking up things for the night. Luckily I didn't get a ticket. I used more minutes on my cell phone this weekend than I did the last two weeks.
We had great support for this event from the people in Memphis, friends from VSA - University of Memphis chapter, our members from Houston, the performers in California, and a couple of people whom I had never met before in my life showed up willing to help us with everything. They even promised to help us with our next events.
Our organization in Houston raised $800 for us. Artist Nguyen Khai donated a painting and it was auctioned on Saturday night and was sold for $250. Writer Dieu Hang donated half the money got for the book sales in San Francisco and Memphis to us. KhanhLy was very generous with us on her service fee. Ms. Anh Lan, Mr. Bao Nguyen, Mr. Truong Duy Nong gladly came to Memphis to help out despite the fact that they were exhausted from the walkathon a week before. Ms. Uyen Thi, Mr. Duc Nguyen, Mr. Chuong Le, Mr. Huu Vuong, Uncle Luong, all gave us so much of their time for this event. There was disbelief when I told people that the bill for the sound system and Tommy Bouzines' time for the whole event was only $50. Several people also volunteered to videotape and take pictures of the event. And our famous vegetarian chef and great host, Ms. Viet Ly has spent so much time preparing food for about 10 people and cleaning up and picking up and dropping off people at the airport. A big Thanks to all of you for your dedication, generosity and spirit of camaraderie.
During the week prior to the event, several of us were beginning to panic and, just to show how paranoid I was, I even envisioned a scenario where no-one showed up for the concert. But then, I started thinking, "so what if we couldn't sell all the tickets, so what if we couldn't raise as much money as we would like too". As the event was unfolding, I became confident that we had the right idea and we were doing something good and worthwhile. As a bonus, we had a grand time. The entire event was amazing and very touching. We put our heart and soul into this event, raised some money for the blind children in Vietnam and managed to have fun at the same time despite the work, the tension, the physical and emotional exhaustion of this whole program.
After the dinner at Pho Hoa Binh, some of us went back to Ms. Vietly's place and chatted with the performers. We drank coffee and stayed up until 4:00 a.m on Sunday morning to talk and to laugh. Some of us were more familiar with the singers from our generation than with Khanh Ly or probably didn't understand the full meaning of the poetry recited, but the performances were tremendously enjoyable. Even the sound man, who understood not one word said and sung that night, agreed. By 4 o'clock in the morning though exhausted belief, we regretted having to leave the gathering.
I am still tired from this whole weekend but it was worth it for me personally. Our goal of "Thuong Tinh Ca" was to keep the Vietnamese music and literature alive in Memphis and to help the blind children in VN, in keeping with the tradition of VCSA. We accomplished that and more, thanks to your generosity and support.