In 1988, 16-year-old Dũng Nguyễn arrived in Australia to join his father who had fled Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam war.

The musical performance work 1988 tells of his arrival in Australia and of his life before and after that transforming moment.

Nguyễn sees the year 1988 as the end of one life and the beginning of another. He found himself in a strange land, where he did not know the language and felt excluded, a situation typical of so many immigrants.

Dũng Nguyễn performing 1988. Photo © Sarah Walker

He became a musician and, together with former Australian Art Orchestra artistic director Peter Knight, he has created a concert to tell his story through music. Knight and Nguyễn have worked together extensively in the past, having formed the internationally successful jazz band Way Out West in 2001.

Nguyễn is a master of several Vietnamese instruments which his grandfather taught him to play: the đàn tranh, a kind of zither similar to the Chinese guzheng; the đàn bầu, a single-stringed gourd zither or monochord, whose string is stretched with the left-hand to change the pitch; and the đàn nguyệt, a two-stringed...