Festival fuels hope for young and talented Ca Tru practitioners

Tuesday, 2018-11-20 09:49:47
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A performance of a ca tru team from Hai Phong city (Photo: baohatinh.vn)
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NDO – The curtain came down on the 2018 National Ca Tru (ceremonial singing) Festival in Ha Tinh province. The four-day festival attracted nearly 300 artists and instrumentalists from 13 cities and provinces across the country. With an increased number of young artisans, the festival has fuelled the hope for a younger and talented generation of Ca Tru practitioners.

Expectation from new faces

The audience at the Ha Tinh province centre for culture and cinema could not forget the emotional feeling brought to the stage through the performance of 16-year-old female vocalist Nguyen Thi Thu Ha. Ha surprised both listeners and judges thanks to her beautiful, deep and highly technical voice, despite her young age.

There were also many more young faces and instrumentalists attending the event, including Nguyen Thi Quynh Nhu, 12, from Ha Tinh province; Le Thi Minh, 12, from Hung Yen province; Nguyen Thi Thanh Dung, 15, from Bac Ninh province; Nguyen Thuc Trinh, 10, and Nguyen Phuong Tra My, 16, from Hanoi.

People’s Artist Thanh Hoai, member of the organising board, said that, although this year’s event saw the absence of veteran artists, it drew a record number of young and new faces, who have years of practicing Ca Tru singing, which showed the participating localities’ efforts and outcomes in preserving and promoting the exercise of Ca Tru in daily life.

Vocalist Nguyen Thi Thanh Dung from the Ca Tru art troupe of Bac Ninh province said that, in addition to learning from predecessor artisans, she has also learnt Ca Tru by herself from CDs. She also visited acclaimed Ca Tru singers in Hanoi and Hai Phong to ask for their instructions on improving her singing technique.

“The festival is a good opportunity for me to meet and learn from many veteran Ca Tru singers, thus honing my vocal sound and stage skills,” Dung said.

Accompanying the female vocal in each Ca Tu performance is a man who plays the ‘dan day’, a long-necked, 3-string, lute used almost exclusively for the Ca Tru genre. This year’s festival was also attended by many young lute players, including To Tuyen from Hai Phong city, Tran Van Tai from Ha Tinh province, Nguyen Tien Thanh from Thanh Hoa province, and Ta Van Hoi from Hanoi.

The young instrumentalists impressed the audience with their excellent technique and strongly supported the female vocalist’ voice.


16-year-old female vocalist Nguyen Thi Thu Ha (R) surprised both listeners and judges thanks to her beautiful, deep and highly technical voice, despite her young age (Photo: baohatinh.vn)

Raising hope for Ca Tru’s vitality in contemporary life

By requiring each team to feature at least three typical musical forms or melodies of Ca Tru, the 2018 National Ca Tru Festival brought to the stage 15 Ca Tru melodies. The teams showed their considerable investment and dedication to their performances.

Accordingly, troupes from Hai Phong, Hanoi, Ha Tinh, and Quang Binh recreated performing spaces and ancient tunes on the stage, which have faced the risk of falling into oblivion.

Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City and Nghe An provinces also introduced new compositions and lyrics for Ca Tru songs, focussing on praising the ancestors, the Party and Uncle Ho as well as the Vietnamese land and people.

Nguyen Van Thanh, a member of the audience at the festival, who has a great love for the Ca Tru genre, said that he admired the dedication and enthusiasm of the participating Ca Tru singers and instrumentalists. He hoped that the localities, sectors and agencies would devise more solutions to uphold the national cultural heritages.

The first Ca Tru Festival in 2005 attracted 20 old artists, who had practiced Ca Tru since 1945 and earlier. From 13 years ago, the number of artists at the 2018 festival increased significantly, with many singers who could efficiently perform different Ca Tru melodies.

Associate Professor, Doctor Le Van Toan, member of the National Heritage Council and member of the festival’s jury, said that he was glad to witness the robust recovery of Ca Tru after the genre won UNESCO recognition ten years ago.

It is heartening to see the rising number of young Ca Tru practitioners, he said, adding that the younger artists have ignited a hope for Vietnam to propose that UNESCO removes the singing from the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and onto the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The festival is held annually by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to create an opportunity to review their efforts to preserve and uphold ca tru in today’s life, thus reaffirming Vietnam’s commitment to safeguarding and promoting the value of the art form.