Musical Ambassador

“Musical Ambassador,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 68–69

Musical Ambassador

Singer Susan Brownfield recently spent nearly three weeks performing concerts and teaching classes in Vietnam, her native country, by invitation of the Vietnamese government.

Early in 1997, Susan, a master’s candidate in voice performance at Boston’s New England Conservatory, was invited by Ngo Quang Xuan, Vietnamese ambassador to the United Nations, to perform at the Hanoi National Conservatory of Music. The New England Conservatory agreed to send Susan as a “musical ambassador” to the country, where she met dignitaries including Vuoung Thinh, Vietnamese minister of culture and information. She performed in conservatories in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and taught classes to undergraduate musicians.

Born in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in 1972, Susan left Vietnam with her mother in 1975, days before their city was taken over by the North Vietnamese army. She became interested in music early in life while singing Primary songs taught to her by a family friend who was a Latter-day Saint. Her family joined the Church in 1983, and a few years later, at the age of 14, Susan began her musical training in earnest.

She says of her recent experience in Vietnam, “It was a wonderful opportunity for me to travel in a new capacity to the land where I was born, representing my school and, in the eyes of the people there, the United States.” Her mother, Tra Brownfield, served as her interpreter during the trip.

Before recently leaving Boston to perform with the Broadway touring production of The King and I, Susan served in the Relief Society presidency of the Revere Second Branch in the Boston Massachusetts Stake.—Curtis Nordstrom, Boston, Massachusetts