On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the horrific 1968 massacre of more than 500 Vietnamese villagers by American soldiers in My Lai, Vietnam, comes a commemorative music performance. My Lai reminds us all of the horrors of the battlefield and the blight of the Vietnam War on the American soul.
Composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Scott Chessman are inspired by the story of Hugh C. Thompson Jr., the American helicopter pilot who intervened with his crew to stop the tragedy. The resultant 90-minute performance is divided into three movements to reflect the three landings they made in an effort to end the violence.
Together, the eminent American string ensemble Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert, and Vietnamese multi-instrumental artist Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ create an all-encompassing sound world as a backdrop to one of history’s most horrific tales.
The haunting sounds of traditional Vietnamese percussion instruments are blended with the digitally processed whir of helicopter blades, set against video projections and compelling images of poignant simplicity. They are all particularly effective at conjuring up and pulling the audience into the psychological world of the man who tried to prevent the carnage that occurred.
Enchantment is the antidote to cynicism, to forgetting, for we need to stay connected to justice, to still believe, to continually respond as human individuals in a sea of violence, con flict and suppression of information. Told from the perspective of pilot Thompson, who was persecuted for reporting the massacre, My Lai is a reminder of ethical generosity in turbulent times.
My Lai opens in Singapore before touring several US cities during the autumn of 2017 and spring of 2018.