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Guitar Goddess: A Candid Conversation with Classical Guitar Virtuoso Thu Le

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The Guitar Masters Festival, founded by Charles Carlini, annually celebrates and elevates the art of guitar playing, uniting enthusiasts from diverse musical backgrounds. Taking place from April 26 to 29 in iconic New York City venues, this harmonious convergence of extraordinary guitar talent invites musicians and fans alike to immerse themselves in the enchanting world of guitar music, recognizing the profound impact of this instrument on the musical landscape.

Thu Le, a renowned classical guitarist, has captivated audiences worldwide with her remarkable talent. Hailing from Vietnam and now based in Bahrain, her musical journey began at the age of four under the guidance of her father, Le Hanh. By seven, she made history as the youngest student admitted to the National Conservatory of Music in Hanoi. Since then, Thu Le has become an international award-winning artist and certified guitar teacher, collaborating with esteemed musicians and participating in prestigious projects like Sergio Assad’s “The Walls” project.

With a repertoire spanning Baroque to Latin American styles, Thu Le’s performances reflect her Vietnamese heritage and a deep appreciation for diverse musical traditions. Now, as she prepares to perform at the inaugural Guitar Masters Festival in New York City from April 25-29, Thu Le eagerly anticipates sharing her music with a global audience. With ongoing tours and her latest studio recording, “Amor,” released in 2023, Thu Le continues to enchant listeners with her unparalleled skill and passion for the classical guitar.

We got a rare chance to catch up with Thu Le during her recent stateside tour and ask her some questions about her music and career.

Guitar Masters: Reflecting on your musical journey, how has your Vietnamese heritage influenced your approach to classical guitar, and how do you weave elements of your culture into your performances?

Thu Le: I firmly believe that every artist should express their individuality and uniqueness. Personally, as someone of Vietnamese heritage, I take great pride in my roots. Coming of age in the post-war era, I witnessed the challenging circumstances faced by my country, yet also marveled at the richness of its culture through folk melodies, theatrical performances, and more. Incorporating Vietnamese music into my repertoire is a vital aspect of my work, as it infuses my performances with the captivating essence of my heritage, constantly inspiring me.

GM: As one of the distinguished performers at the upcoming Guitar Masters Festival in NYC, what can audiences expect from your performance, and how do you envision your music resonating with diverse listeners in such a cosmopolitan setting?

TL: Some say it’s impossible to please everyone, but I’m up for the challenge :), offering a repertoire that spans from Classical and modern classics to Latin American and Vietnamese music.

GM: You’ve garnered acclaim for your interpretations of classical pieces as well as your innovative compositions. Could you share with us your creative process when crafting new music, and how do you strike a balance between tradition and innovation in your repertoire?

TL: There is no better way to learn about music than delving into its cultural and historical roots, as well as the backgrounds of composers. For instance, when it comes to learning how to play dance music, immersing oneself in the art of dance by observing movements and rhythms is essential for musical mastery.

GM: The Guitar Masters Festival promises to be a melting pot of talent and creativity. How do you view the significance of such festivals in fostering connections among musicians and nurturing the classical guitar community on a global scale?

TL: I’m optimistic about the festival’s success due to its versatility. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the audience to experience the diverse styles of guitar playing. Personally, I aim to bring the audience closer to the world of classical guitar, showcasing the beauty of nylon strings with their intricacy, depth, authenticity, colors, and the wide range of cultural nuances the instrument embodies.

GM: Looking ahead to your appearance on April 27 at the Guitar Masters Festival, what excites you the most about sharing your music with the audience in New York City, and do you have any surprises in store for your performance that you can tease us with?

TL: Let it be a surprise 🙂 

Thu Le’s dedication to her craft and her ability to transcend cultural boundaries through music exemplify the universality of artistic expression. As she prepares to take the stage at the Guitar Masters Festival, her passion and artistry serve as a testament to the power of music to unite and inspire. We eagerly anticipate experiencing the magic of Thu Le’s performance as she continues to enchant audiences with her unparalleled talent.

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Charles Carlini

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