Wednesday, 07/11/2018 09:16

Hà Nội leads the way in ca trù presevation and development

Musician and ca tru expert Dang Hoanh Loan.
Viet Nam News

Musician Dang Hoanh Loan is former deputy head of the Viet Nam Institute of Musicology. He has researched ca tru (ceremonial singing) for many years, contributing to the dossier submitted to UNESCO on Intangible Cultural Heritages in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2009. He has participated in national ca tru festivals as general director, including the fourth edition which closed on Monday in the central province of Ha Tinh.

Ca tru is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Viet Nam from the 11th century on, using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms. Loan spoke about the development of ca tru in Ha Noi

Ca tru was recognised by UNESCO nearly ten years ago. As part of the effort to implement the dossier, Viet Nam has kept the national ca tru festival going after holding it for the first time in 2008. What do you think of ca tru development in Ha Noi?

We have to recognise that Ha Noi is one of the leading centres in the whole country in preservation and development of ca tru. Ca tru clubs in Ha Noi have done well in organisation, research and performance activities. The number of clubs has increased dramatically. Ha Noi clubs have most of the talented performers. More and more young people can sing ca tru.

Ha Noi is a big centre right now. Audiences in Ha Noi really like ca tru and they are contributing to its continuation. A competition held recently in the city showed that many young people want to participate. They spend their money to learn the folk singing and many of them find success.

I think ca tru is really valuable in the life of Hanoians.

In your opinion, what is the difference between young ca tru singers in Ha Noi and other provinces and cities?

There are two forms of preservation and development of the art genre in Ha Noi. They are organisations and individuals. The organisations are clubs set up by ca tru lovers to satisfy their demand. They aim to make it popular. Private individuals also learn singing. Many are talented and they become clubs members after they finish learning. 

This is typical character of Ha Noi ca tru because it is a good place to learn and perform, and audiences are interested. As a result, Ha Noi lures many talents from other places. 

Many provinces and cities are lacking a master singer. They have to invite masters from Ha Noi clubs to teach young students. In this way, Ha Noi plays an important role in preservation and development of the singing. 

What is the most important factor in Ha Noi’s ca tru preservation and development?

It is participation of Ha Noi’s culture managers. I know authorities of Ha Noi’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and know that they have a passion for ca tru and are responsible for its preservation and development. The city’s cultural authority has held numerous festivals on ceremonial singing.

The authorities are aware of the importance of ca tru and give favourable conditions to clubs. Ha Noi is a good example of how the country can easily preserve and develop the genre if we are aware of its heritage value.

Is preservation or development the most important?

Both preservation and development are important. We should carry them out side by side, not just one or the other. This requires a good level of cultural awareness.

I held an experimental performance at the opening ceremony of the National Ca Tru Festival in Ha Tinh on November 1. A voice recording of a 92-year-old ca tru master singer accompanied modern instruments and modern dance.

This performance reflects that preservation and development need to suit modern life. Our intangible heritage should move in accordance with life today. Audiences will contribute to the development of ca tru. Singers and musicians need to be assisted. It is necessary to support contemporary artists in bringing the art form closer to young audiences. This will make modern Vietnamese music distinctive. — VNS

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