David Shedden, Esther Swift and Tom Bancroft in Hoi An, Vietnam

Three of Scotland’s best known and loved traditional musicians are currently enjoying a 20-day residency programme in Hoi An, Vietnam. 

Drummer and composer Tom Bancroft, singer, harpist and composer, Esther Swift and piper and Young Trad Finalist 2018, David Shedden were selected to take part in the residency through a nominations process in March this year.  Scottish traditional music is core to the practice of all three artists and this was central to them being selected.

The fully funded residency programme, which runs from 5 – 25 June 2019, is part of the FAMLAB strand of the British Council’s on-going Heritage of Future Past project and is organised in conjunction with Vietnamese organisations, Lune Production and Phu Sa Lab.

Hung Doan from Lune Productions, Minh Nguyen and Dac Quyen from Phu Sa Lab visited Scotland as delegates to Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections in January 2019.  Their visit allowed them to witness how alive and current Scottish traditional music is in contemporary Scotland and helped inform the selection process.

Tom, Esther and David will join around 40 Vietnamese musicians also participating in the programme.  Seven master musicians from the North West, Central Highlands and South Central regions of Vietnam are joining with contemporary musicians who have explored elements of traditional Vietnamese music throughout their practice. 

Collaboration and an experimental approach are the name of the game in this exciting residency through which the Scottish artists will be encouraged to conceive pieces with other residency participants, incorporating traditional Vietnamese instruments. 

Participants will have access to an assortment of indigenous musical instruments (such as gongs, ting ning, Cham percussions [ginang and baranung], jaw harps and flutes), as well as those made and crafted by Phu Sa Lab musicians themselves.

In an interview with the British Council’s Arts Manager in Vietnam the musicians had this to say about their first few days in Vietnam:

“It’s been really exciting coming to Vietnam and getting to play with all these traditional musicians … just seeing some of the instruments has been incredible … and a lot of handmade instruments people have made on their own … and obviously the food has been absolutely unbelievable which is always a bonus!” (David Shedden)

“The musicians from the minority cultures, how they think about music and what’s meaningful for them is fascinating and I think we’ve really connected with them as people through music which is beautiful… it’s been a beautiful thing … so there’s a lot of warmth and connection that’s been established in only a few days.” (Tom Bancroft)

“It’s lovely to establish a language between so many different, diverse types of music making … it’s been quite overwhelming but in a good way” (Esther Swift)

The residency culminates in a live event in Hoi An, showcasing new pieces developed throughout the 20-day programme.