Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Bich-Van Nguyen of VS Music Studios
Current Location: Orange County, CA
Bich-Van, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I was handed the mandolin by my grandfather at the age of four, then started taking piano lessons at age five, singing lessons at age six, and have been performing ever since. I developed a love for music at a very young age, never skipped a lesson or practice. I continued singing and performing in school and church, and eventually auditioned and got a full ride to the National Music Conservatory in Vietnam, pursuing Vocal Performance. When I moved to the U.S. in 2003, I started my music education all over again, getting my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Bob Cole Music Conservatory (CSULB) and then my Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy at New York University, all the while performing internationally. I would say it’s a combination of passion and hard work that gets me to where I am today.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
Currently, I’ve been working on some exciting projects. Pre-Covid, I was offered the lead role in the new opera What The Horse Eats, by PQ Phan, which was scheduled to have its World Premiere this August in Indiana. The opera was delayed until next year due to the pandemic, and that has given me more time to learn and prepare for my role. I’m also working on two online TV shows that are currently in pre-production and production. Another project that I’m very passionate about is continuing to build up my teaching studios at VS Music Studios. There, we have been switching to mostly online during the pandemic, but we are very blessed to have continued growing, having most of our students and clients remain loyal.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Has it been a smooth one for you? If not, what are some struggles you've faced along the way, and how have you overcome them?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road. I've definitely had a lot of obstacles along the way, starting with my family. Being in an Asian-American household, coming to the U.S. from Vietnam, my family had a lot of doubt about my choice in pursuing a music career. It came from a place of love, but at the time, I felt so alone being the only one in my extended family not being in the healthcare profession. They’re very supportive of me now, but it sure took some time and convincing.
Being Asian has given me tremendous support from my community but also some obstacles when it comes to roles or opportunities in mainstream entertainment. I can’t even remember how many times I was turned down, or my resume didn’t even make it through the first glance because I was Asian and thus not fitting for the “role.” I am extremely grateful for the entertainment industry becoming more and more open-minded with blind casting, however, I soon learned to create my own opportunities and let my voice be heard and my face be seen.
And of course, every artist deals with self-doubt, rejection, or even slander and envy if you do make it in the business. But as long as you remain strong, brave, honest, believe in yourself and keep working, obstacles become motivation and will blossom into success.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
There are so many things I’ve learned along the way. The biggest lesson is to learn to trust yourself, trust your gut, and trust God. Sometimes you have to tune out all the negativity surrounding you and focus on what you do and why you do it. If I could give my younger self a piece of advice, it would be to focus on yourself, be genuine of who you are, be ok with where you are on your own journey and never to compare yourself to anyone else.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
A man once told me when I just started out and was still very young that I needed to “live” more when I sang. I didn’t quite understand that statement at the time but after years of working and experiencing all the ups and downs in the industry, I started to understand. Performing is not only about singing beautifully. It’s an expression, a way to communicate, a reflection of life. To truly be an artist, one needs to “live” more, to feel more, and to bring all of that emotions and hearts and put it all on the table.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about something that maybe inspired you to pursue a life in the arts?
My time going to grad school at NYU was a life-changing experience for me. Being from Saigon, Vietnam and then living in California for some years, I always yearned to be in New York City. This “city that never sleeps” has inspired me and taught me so many lessons that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve made the best of friends there, learned from the best artists, and survived a mugging at gunpoint. I get my inspirations from life and everything in it. Traveling and learning about all different cultures inspire me the most. It teaches me to be humble, more accepting and opens myself up to the big wide world.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
Probably when I had my very first sold-out live concert of my own, on this very stage at the Rose Center Theater. My whole family was sitting in the front row and I got to say thanks to them for all the support they’ve given me, especially my Dad for always being there for me!
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What purpose do you think the arts or artists play in today's society?
As artists, we have a role and responsibility to reflect society and its struggles which in turn, brings change. The arts are also an incredible way to teach us about cultures and history, lets us dream about the future, and all the while challenges our thinking in the present.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
With Covid-19, the future is so uncertain, especially for the arts industry. My heart is broken seeing artists and everyone involved in this industry, my friends and myself included, not having work for an indefinite time. My immediate hope is that arts will come back, stronger than ever, when it’s safe again, to bring hope, joy, and heart back into our society.
I hope the arts become even more supported in our society from an individual level to a larger scale worldwide. At VSMS, we work with many adults now that tell us how they wished they would have taken music lessons when they were younger. The arts, and music, provide such joy and balance in our lives.
The arts also gives people a closer look into the past, present, and future. President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.” I really hope we continue to dream, to imagine, to thrive and to build our future from arts.
Contact & Other Info:
Personal Website: bichvanofficial.com
VS Music Studios Website: VSMusicStudios.com
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