I am humbled and honored to have two of my tracks from, "Inner Peace" featured in this wonderful video promoting the 25th anniversary of the International Shri Krishna Puja to be held at Nirmal Nagari, Canajoharie, NY. The music fits perfectly with the bucolic scenery and it's a fantastic event. I hope you enjoy the video, music, and good vibrations!
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Yesterday was the culminating concert of the residency and to be honest I had mixed feelings about it. There were a lot of positives, though. First off, Ro Cham Ti, the master musical instrument maker got a traditional Jarai outfit sent down from the highlands of Vietnam just so I could wear it for the show. I got to show off my shoulder hair while being cool for once.
My wife, daughter, and mother and father in law came down for this concert and it was an absolute joy having my family there and especially seeing my daughter dancing and calling, “DADA!” I told everyone near me on stage, you’re going to hear my daughter and sure enough within about 30 seconds of the beginning of the show, you could hear her laughing and hollering with excitement. I proudly turned to my friends, “yep, that’s my daughter.”
The concert definitely had some great parts to it. We covered a lot of ground musically and showcased combinations of instruments that I’m sure have never been done before. Sometimes I felt like maybe there was actually too much. Maybe we tried to cram a bit too much musical material into one concert.
The sound on stage was not good, however. There were many times that microphones weren’t on and players couldn’t be heard and even when they were on, the mix was poor and it was difficult to hear one another. I wish there had been a more comprehensive sound check because when you are playing and can’t hear yourself (or others that you need to hear) it’s enormously frustrating.
People seemed to enjoy the concert, I even got an email shortly after the show from a guy who happened to be in Hoi An, heard the music, followed the sound, and came for the final number. He was bummed that he missed most of it but he really was excited by the music.
Sometimes when you’re performing it’s difficult to be objective about how it went. I think overall the concert was good and that the residency was worthwhile. I met a lot of really awesome musicians, who I hope to collaborate with in the future. I will say that I wish it was a bit better organized. Like I explained in previous blogs, there was a lot of downtime at rehearsals. So much downtime that I ended drawing a whole series of cartoon fruits with different fun expressions. I used to love drawing cartoons when I was younger, so it was nice to reconnect with that part of my brain.
I do wish I had learned some more traditional tunes from a lot of these musicians’ cultures. I feel like that element was lacking a bit. I know that organizing and coordinating something of this magnitude in creativity and scale is monumentally difficult. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have taken part in this residency and I hope to do a lot more experimentation, creation, and cultural exchange in the future.
This was a really nice way to end my year here in Vietnam. I’m currently writing this on my phone from the train from Hoi An to Hanoi (a 15 hours ride). Now we have about 5 days to pack everything up and leave to go back to New Jersey. It’s been such an amazing year musically and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to cap it off.
Last night I played a gig with a bunch of the residents from FAMLAB at this beachside restaurant in An Bang. I got there and was stunned at how beautiful the scenery was. The sun was setting over the ocean, the water was angelic, and air had a salty twang to it. There were 7 of us on total: Esther Swift on harp, Tom Bancroft on bodhran, David Shedden on tin whistles, LinhHafornow on vocals/electronics, Scobi Wan on electronics, and Escuri on electronics. I of course was playing cello, but I brought my đàn bầu as well.
The gig was incredible. It was one of those times playing music where you totally lose yourself in the moment. There’s nothing else besides just playing and creating.
Esther, Tom, and David played a bunch of traditional Scottish tunes from their home country and they absolutely killed it. Just amazing musicianship combined with some really cool music. It was a pleasure to watch them because I rarely get to hear that style and especially done so well.
I went on second with LinhHafornow. She is an amazing vocalist who combines her ethereal voice with looping and effects. I was quite excited to play with her because we have a similar musical aesthetic and I knew that our instruments would blend really nicely together. We had literally nothing planned, it was all going to be improvised. Honestly, I like that approach because it makes you really be in the moment. You’re responsible for creating every second, nothing is determined.
We started playing as the sun had just set and the music turned out so sublime. As I had expected, her lush vocals combined with my cello just created this sonic landscape that had me captivated. I’m a fan of doing ambient, slow, and melodic music and this hit the nail right on the head. I even jumped over to the đàn bầu for one song and messed around. People were actually surprised that I made it sound halfway decent. So was I. It’s nice to take risks on stage. I’ve been in situations before where I just felt like nothing was at stake when I was playing, no risk, no nervousness. That kind of feeling is kind of the death knell of creativity.
After a bit, we were joined by Escuri who added some sweet beats. It sounded fantastic and was so much fun to play over. Over the next couple hours we all did various configurations of the FAMLAB residents on stage. After sitting out for a bit, I hopped back on with Escuri and David on tin whistle and we created some Scottish folk techno cello madness. Unbelievable and awesome.
At the very end of the gig, we all got on stage and did an amazing slow meditation piece for the crowd. People were invited to lay down on the grass and look up at the stars as we lulled them into a different universe. It was truly beautiful.
Playing a gig like this really hit me deep. Not every gig is like this. Sometimes it’s a job, people don’t want to admit that, but it’s true. But this was different. This was why I love music and why I continue to do it everyday.
There’s just nothing like it.
I was featured in the esteemed newspaper, Việt Nam News!
Today I had a really transformative experience. My wife, Bùi Tuyết Minh, is the founder of Vietnam Dance Movement Therapy and helped to lead a workshop at the American Center in Hanoi for Vietnamese veterans who are suffering from cancer.
When I first heard that she was doing this workshop and that I would be lending musical accompaniment, I was intrigued, albeit a little apprehensive. I have collaborated so many times with my wife in tons of workshops, but this one in particular stood out to me. It seemed heavy and dark, but very important.
Here’s me, some American kid who had an easy life and grew up with very little connection to Vietnam or the Vietnam War. I knew my grandparents, father, and mother were against the war back in the day and that my dad once got arrested for throwing snowballs at cops at an antiwar protest while he was in college. The legend is that the cops shaved his head in jail and it never grew back.
Now my connection to Vietnam is much, much stronger as my wife is Vietnamese and daughter is both Vietnamese and American. I’ve lived in Vietnam for almost a year now and have learned about the rich cultural heritage of this country. In the USA, all I really knew of Vietnam was the war: seeing movies and reading books all from the American perspective. Though the Vietnam War was certainly not the defining factor of people and culture in Vietnam, it definitely was an extremely significant and traumatic event that has shaped lives of everyone in this country in some way.
The workshop began with the veterans and their wives talking about how they were affected by the war: what they did before, during, and after. Some were teachers, some were doctors, all called to fight and all profoundly affected by their time as soldiers. All of the conversation was in Vietnamese and though my Vietnamese has gotten better over the last year, I didn’t understand most of the words they were saying. Honestly, I didn’t really need to understand the words as I could understand the feeling, emotion, and pain in how they were talking.
It’s funny, as someone who plays a very emotionally charged instrument and likes it for that fact, I really don’t like to talk about how I feel. After everyone had told their story at the beginning, Minh asked me if I wanted to say something. I really didn’t want to talk. I can be a good speaker and writer if I want to, but I just felt like it was so much easier in this situation to say what I wanted to say by playing. I played, Tinh Cha, a song for Vietnamese fathers and Minh began to facilitate the movements of the workshop.
You could see on their faces that the combination of the music and movement was really affecting them. It was quite powerful. Here was this music from their past, songs that they know and loved, recontextualized through the lens of some American man playing the cello.
This might sound pretentious, but despite the songs being familiar, I think what they were responding to is the intention and energy that I was giving the music. What I was trying to convey was a sense of healing, empathy, and compassion through my playing. I was trying in some ways to apologize for the stupid and often cruel things that countries do in the name of war, when at the end of the day, no matter what side you’re on, you’re still humans. No matter what side you are on when you see the horrors of war you are still a human being and you are going to be profoundly affected by this experience. What really separates you from the enemy? A uniform? A language?
It’s like that Thomas Hardy poem, “The Man He Killed.” It’s from the point of view of a soldier who killed an “enemy soldier,” and about how perhaps if they had met under different circumstances, they would have been friends. They would have had a drink at a bar and laughed. People aren’t governments. Governments get people involved in these conflicts, but it’s the people who suffer.
As I continued to play I could see the healing quality of what Minh and I were doing. I have to be honest, most times when I’m playing, I play for myself. The fact that people are sometimes deeply affected by my playing isn’t really my goal. I play because I enjoy playing and everything else that happens as a result is nice, but not my focus.
This was different. I wanted the audience to be touched in a positive way. I wanted them to see that though they may have seen some terrible things and now they are fighting for their lives from diseases inflicted by chemicals from the war, that every darkness has a light. Forty-four years after the end of the war I bet these men were not expecting to be at the American Center in Hanoi being played Vietnamese songs by an American cellist and being led in a dance workshop by his Vietnamese wife.
At the end of the session, the soldiers and their wives were very thankful for providing the workshop. I was thankful to them for giving me a chance and for sharing their deeply personal stories with us. I know I grew as a person, an artist, and human being. I hope I helped to give them some sort of relief and peace.
In an endlessly complicated and often scary world, never underestimate the healing power of music, dance, and the human connection. These are some of the few things that really matter in this world.
I had the honor of performing on Vietnamese TV (VTV1) with the extremely talented musical group, Mandala. The group is comprised of Bryan Charles Wilson on Cello, Ly Phan on Đàn tranh, and Eliott Malderezon Sáo Mèo and Percussion. The musicians are from the USA, Vietnam, and France respectively and use the traditional instruments of Vietnam as a starting point for musical exploration. This was a completely improvised performance captured at VTV Studios in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Enjoy the music!
I was very humbled and honored to be featured on TV in Vietnam! I performed with the master of the đàn tranh, Duyệt Thị Trang, at the American Center in Hanoi, Vietnam. The program was a stunning improvisational collaboration between cello and đàn tranh, an instrumental duo that has had very little interaction historically.
Thay and I improvised together and answered questions from the audience regarding our musical journey together. We were also joined by the talented musical duo of Ly Phan and Eliott Malderez who helped to add extra color and depth to our improvisations. Enjoy the video, I had a great time performing and doing the interview!
I am incredibly excited to debut my new band, Amalgamy. We just released our first album, Cynefin, and I'm extremely proud of the music.
It's truly world music, taking elements from musical traditions around the globe and fusing it together to create a sound that you have never experienced before.
My bandmate, Lubomir Smilenov, is a tremendously talented multi-instrumentalist who shreds on Kora, Kaval, Gadulka, Guitar, Ableton Push, and Piano on this album. I am constantly blown away by his musical acuity.
The music on Cynefin is utterly sublime and I'm very proud of it!
Check it out at www.amalgamymusic.com.
You'll enjoy it.
Kaia means Ocean, Earth, and Nothing is impossible. Minh means Light in Vietnamese. Kaia Minh means Ocean of Light.
She is the first child of cellist/composer, Bryan Charles Wilson. He began crafting songs for his daughter to listen to as soon as he knew his wife, Minh, was pregnant. It was a spiritual journey for Bryan as a composer, cellist, and father-to-be as he supported Minh through her pregnancy.
The album combines cello, vocals, and atmospheric synthesizers that help put his daughter in a state of sonic bliss. The musical textures are soft and lush, bathing listeners in a cocoon of warm harmonies and joyous melodies. The music is perfect for relaxation as well as matching the many different moods of a child.
We are very excited to share these songs with you and hope you and your children are transported to a state of enlightened tranquility when listening to this music.
Much love to you all and here's to hoping that Kaia likes the cello!
I had an amazing solo performance at Mexicali Live on June 28th, 2017 and one of my favorite moments was my collaboration with the unbelievable multi-instrumentalist and composer, Lubomir Smilenov, who accompanied me on kora. The melding of cello and kora is absolutely magical and it's something that needs to be explored much more. Stay tuned for an EP that Lubomir and I are making...
We are more than thrilled to announce that a new music album, INNER PEACE, was just released today by our talented Bryan Wilson.
Inner Peace is the second solo album of cellist, and composer, Bryan Charles Wilson. A unique mixture of multicultural, uplifting, and peaceful melodies ranges from traditional Sahaja Yoga Indian bhajans to spiritual Western songs and of course soothing music of Bryan Wilson, himself. (track 2 and 9)
Wilson is a graduate of CalArts, the contemporary cellist who is the founder and director of the Bryan Wilson Cello Studio, and the author of the hit book, Cello Chords (2011) and composer and performer of solo album, Oso Perezoso (2017).
Wilson believes that music is a pure means of dialogue and expression. And inner Peace is what all we need for a harmony connection between spiritual life and practical life. In this album, he wishes to spread and share with you all the universal melodies of bliss, jubilation, and inner peace.
To purchase Inner Peace as a digital download or as a physical CD, please visit: https://bryanwilson.bandcamp.com/. 30% of CD purchases directly support Canajoharie School for peace promotion.
I've got a BIG show coming up on June 28th at 7:30 pm (doors at 6 PM) at Mexicali Live in Teaneck! I'm playing in my hometown for the first time in a long time and I'm really excited to showcase some new material too. This will be my last show in town for a while as I'm moving to Vietnam with my wife where I will be playing cello and composing for Vietnam Dance Movement Therapy.
Come out to the show! For tickets, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get you hooked up!
Bryan Charles Wilson, a gifted composer, author, and cellist for acclaimed New York City based orchestral post-rock outfit, You Bred Raptors?, is thrilled to release, Oso Perezoso, his first solo effort. His debut record draws from his classical upbringing on cello and combines it with his passion for hip hop drum beats, synthesizers, and detailed production.
Wilson is a graduate of the very non-traditional California Institute of the Arts and has truly blazed his own musical path on the album with his cello. The record, which is set for a March 7, 2017 release, is deeply personal for Wilson. Half of the songs were written for his family including his loving and hilarious 96 year old grandmother, Roz, his gorgeous new bride, Minh, and his very supportive parents, Syd and Paul. The rest of the tracks feature the cello singing melancholic melodies over hip-hop drumlines and roaring synths.
The young composer found his affection for non classical cello music in his teens after attending The New Directions Cello Festival. He found that the classical world was very constricting, often uptight, and he rarely felt inspired playing in an orchestra. Seeing amazing and forward thinking cellists there opened up his mind as to what was possible on the instrument.
On top of that, Wilson is the author of the instructional book, Cello Chords, 2011 which has become a go to resource for cellists all across the globe. The book, all the sheet music, and backing tracks for Oso Perezoso are available on Wilson’s website, www.BryanWilsonCello.com. He hopes that young cellists will be inspired by his new album to not only play his tunes, but also create their own.