Vietnamese-American Pianist Chau Giang Nguyen Plays Carnegie Hall, Helps Children

New York, N.Y.  I recently had lunch in the beautiful home of my friend, the glamorous and generous Vietnamese-American pianist Chau Giang Thi Nguyen.  She is interested in building a program in Vietnam to teach impoverished and orphaned children classical music as a way of giving them culture, discipline and a path out of poverty.   “What inspires and energizes more than music?,” she asked me.  “Being a part of music is being a part of the hope and innovation in our lives and community.”

I have known this Renaissance woman,  “Coco” to her friends, for several years and found her to be a true humanitarian.  Last fall I attended her performance at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall – an incredible musical experience that just does not fade from my memory.

Vietnamese-American Pianist Chau Giang Nguyen Plays Carnegie Hall.
Photo: Greg Partanio, www.manhattansociety.com.

Chau Giang’s repertoire for that evening, I remember, includied Bach’s Fantasy & Fugue in G Minor, transcribed by Liszt (one of the longest Fugues written by Bach), Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique Op. 13 No. 8 in C Minor, Schubert Impromptu #2 and 3 in G Minor, Rachmaninoff’s Elegie Op 3 No. 1 in E Flat Minor, Liszt’s Concert Etude “Un Sospiro” in D Flat Minor, Rachmaninoff’s Op. 33 No. 2 in C Major, Chau-Giang’s three piano pieces “Water Lily,” “Farewell,” “The Conscious Dream,” then she ended with Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 4 “Mazeppa” in D Major.


Photo: Sara Herbert-Galloway / www.herbertcollection.com.

Each piece cascaded the audience with waves of beauty, power, strength, and peace.  She was embraced with a standing ovation since it was indeed a gift for all who had experienced her wondrous expression of glorious music.


The lovely and multi-talented Chau Giang Nguyen playing Carnegie Hall.
Photo: Sara Herbert-Galloway / www.herbertcollection.com.

Over lunch at her home, she shared with my partner John Lee and me many things about her childhood.  She recalled being a child who was always exited about going to school and being a straight-A student.  And she remembered with great fondness observing Vietnamese musicians taking a lunch break from practicing to eat their sandwiches and drink green tea, only to return to the concert hall to play beautiful symphonic music of Mozart, Chopin, Schubert, and Beethoven.

That is how her interest in music began.  Last fall, as I witnessed  New York’s glitterati sold out Carnegie Hall. Attendees included painter Peter Max, musician Lucia Hwong Gordon, philanthropist Angela Chao, Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.N., the Hon. Le Hoai Trung and his wife Madam Le Nguyet Anh, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Business Manager to the Stars Barry Klarberg and his fiancé, the writer and philanthropist Sara Herbert Galloway.


Power women Liz Derringer, Robin Cofer, Keiko Aoki, Chau Giang Thi Nguyen,
Lucia Hwong Gordon, Elga Wimmer, and Pamela Morgan.
Photo: Greg Partanio, www.manhattansociety.com.

Other guests included hedge fund manager John Lattanzio, writer Anthony Haden-Guest,  Valentino V.P. June Haynes, fashion designer Joanna Mastroianni, Global Stress Initiative director Lorraine Cancro, Black Tie Magazine’s Joyce Brooks, film producer Donald Rosenfeld, film director Burt Dalton, world renowned psychologist “Dr. Judy” Kuriansky, Ph.D., Global Partnerships Forum executive director Amir Dossal with his wife Tas as well, as Benihana’s Keiko Aoki among many other notables.

Philanthropist Sara Herbert Galloway with Global Stress Initiative’s Lorraine Cancro
at Carnegie Hall. Photo: Sara Herbert-Galloway / www.herbertcollection.com.

The audience was particularly receptive.  Attendees such as Pamela Morgan said, “My beautiful friend Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen gave a solo concert unlike any I have ever heard. I congratulate her on her exquisite talents and beauty!”

Barry Klarberg, Sara Herbert Galloway, Dr. Judy Kuriansky. Lorraine Cancro, Rita Cosby
 and Tomaczek Bednarek. Photo: Sara Herbert-Galloway / www.herbertcollection.com.

A tasteful after party for the recital was hosted by Giving Back Foundation founder and C.E.O. Meera Gandhi and husband Vikram Pandit, former C.E.O. of Citigroup, at Bottega del Vino.  There, three-time Emmy Award winning anchor and best-selling author Rita Cosby also joined the celebration.


TV anchor Rita Cosby, Chau Giang Nguyen with socialite and philanthropist
Sara Herbert-Galloway. Photo: Sara Herbert-Galloway / www.herbertcollection.com.

The evening was a grand success starting at the elegant concert hall with reception, an incredible performance and wonderful crowd.  David Carr once wrote for The New York Times about Nguyen’s playing as an “exquisite piano performance.”

Chau-Giang’s original music has been performed and recorded by the National Orchestra of Vietnam and the National Orchestra of Bratislava, conducted by conductors Nguyen Thieu Hoa and Allan Wilson.


XXX, Vikram Pandit, Meera Gandhi, AAA, BBB.
Photo: Greg Partanio, www.manhattansociety.com.

Nguyen started her career performing at the Hanoi Opera House at the young age of eleven. She regularly appeared on Vietnamese National TV since her early years.  Nguyen came to the U.S. in 1994 to study at Juilliard, then the Manhattan School of Music where she graduated in 1997.


Pianist Chau-Giang with Meera Gandhi relax after the recital.
Photo: Greg Partanio, www.manhattansociety.com.

In the U.S., she studied with late maestro Gyorgy Sandor from Juilliard and Zenon Fishbein from The Manhattan School of Music.  Nguyen performed solo at Steinway Hall in New York City in 2006, at Disney Hall in Los Angeles in 2008, and at Lincoln Center in 2010 with her own piano compositions, where friend David Foster joined her on stage and played for her friends who were among many of the attendees.

Chau-Giang’s original orchestral music, in collaboration with Arturo Sandoval, Mariah Carey, James Ingram and Thump, was used for Debbie Allen’s 2010 Ballet, “The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” which was performed at UCLA for a three days sold out performance. This won the U.S. Fourth-Annual Goldstar National Nutcracker Award in 2010.  Chau-Giang will soon perform the Liszt Concerto #1 in E flat Major with the National Orchestra Symphony of Vietnam at the Hanoi Opera House.


Pianist Chau Giang Thi Nguyen on stage at Carnegie Hall’s Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.  
Photo: Greg Partanio.

Besides piano, Nguyen also paints.  She had two solo shows in SoHo and her latest one, a joint show with other artists from all over the world, the “Arternativelight” show was exhibited in Chapiteau De Fontvielle in the Principality of Monaco last September, hosted by Robert Redford, President of Cannes Films Festivals Gilles Jacob, the magazine Arcolmag, the Cultural Association “Arcol,” and the Monegasque Associations.

“Growing up,” she told John and I in her home, with her precious dachsund Noodle at her feet, “I realized that my grandparents had given thousands of jobs to people on their plantation.  I want to follow in their footsteps and giving back to my Vietnamese community.”  Coco related how during a recent visit to Vietnam she encountered young musicians there.  “Such innocent faces, smart, hungry, passionate, eager to learn and to contribute to the community,” she explained to us.  She is happy to note the achievements of Asian concert musicians.  “My dream in life is to raise funds to help make a small change, a difference in the education and life of Vietnamese students and musicians,” she said before we departed. 

Jim & Coco with Noodle - 1-13
Chau Giang Nguyen and the author holding her beloved Dachsund Noodle during a winter visit
to her home. 
Photo: The Stewardship Report.

Vietnamese-American pianist and artist Chau Giang Thi Nguyen is also a thought leader and global citizen.  She graces the world’s stage, bring talent and light to the darkness of impoverished children – and those impoverished of culture.  I top my hat to this lady, this Renaissance woman, who is such an excellent role model for how those who have can help so much those who have not.


Chau Giang Nguyen accepting an award at the National Meningitis Association’s 
annual gala in 2012. Video: www.goodnewsbroadcast.com.

With assistance by Lorraine Cancro.

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

View all posts by Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

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