Given his incredibly adept use of harmonics in Lacquer and Grit, it wasn’t surprising to learn that Viet plays some flute. We often find that composers who have a fundamental understanding of the instrument through playing it themselves or who work in collaboration with a trusted flutist employ extended techniques in ways that are really effective.
Q&A with Viet…
Describe your musical background and current activities.
I’m a composer who enjoys writing for all kinds of ensembles and instruments but I’m especially drawn to winds.
What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
I play a little bit of flute myself, and I enjoy being able to try things out, especially extended techniques, before giving them to a performer.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra is performing my percussion quartet concerto on February 10 and 11, 2018 in Los Angeles. I’d love to see any LA people there!
More about Viet…
Called “alluring” and “wildly inventive” by The New York Times, the music of VIET CUONG seeks to both enchant and challenge listeners by breathing new life into time-honored musical ideas. Viet’s work has been performed on six continents by ensembles such as Sō Percussion, Sandbox Percussion, the PRISM Sax Quartet, JACK String Quartet, clarinetist Gregory Oakes, flutist Mimi Stillman, the Albany Symphony, and Jacksonville Symphony in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Midwest Clinic, US Navy Band International Saxophone Symposium, and International Double Reed Society Conference. Additionally, he has been featured twice on American Public Radio’s Performance Today and his wind band works have amassed over a hundred performances by college and conservatory ensembles worldwide. Viet’s prizes include the ASCAP Morton Gould Award, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composers Award, Theodore Presser Foundation Music Award, New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, Cortona Prize, Dolce Suono Ensemble Young Composers Competition, Boston GuitarFest Composition Competition, and Walter Beeler Memorial Prize. He was a scholarship student at the Aspen, Bowdoin, and Lake Champlain music festivals, and has also been a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, Cabrillo Festival’s Young Composer Workshop, and Copland House’s CULTIVATE workshop. Additionally, Viet is among the youngest group of composers ever to receive artist residencies from the Yaddo Artist Retreat, Copland House, Ucross Foundation, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. Viet has studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, Princeton University, and Peabody Conservatory, where his teachers have included David Ludwig, Steve Mackey, Donnacha Dennehy, Kevin Puts, and Oscar Bettison. Please visit www.vietcuongmusic.com to listen and learn more.
If you liked Lacquer and Grit…
Cosmetic Collection (2012-13)
pieces for flute and piano
1. Bedazzler (2013)
(for flute alone, 4′)
2. Lacquer and Grit (2012)
(for flute and piano, 10′)
3. Veil (2013)
(for piano alone, 8′)
*pieces may be performed separately
Nothing If Not (2015)
for double woodwinds, piano, bass, & percussion, 14′
written for the American Modern Ensemble
Pulse Train (2010)
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion, piano 7′
Thu Điếu (2017)
for soprano, winds (fl, cl, bsn), harp, and string quartet, 6′
commissioned by the Vietnamese American Society for Creative Arts and Music
for P.Q. Phan
for flute, violin, cello, percussion, 7′
commissioned by the Cadillac Moon Ensemble