Years of hard work pay off
HCM CITY (VNS)— As an amateur cai luong (reformed opera) singer, Pham Thi Huyen Trang faced hard times for many years, but her talent finally got the recognition it deserved when she won the gold medal at the Vong Co (Nostalgic Tunes) Golden Bell Contest.
|Dream comes true: Pham Thi Huyen Trang (left), 26, winner of this year's Vong Co Golden Bell Contest, organised by HCM City Television is to seek new talent for the cai luong theatre. (HTV Photos)
Beating eight other finalists in the annual event organised by HCM City Television in late September, Trang displayed a strong voice and stage presence that made her a standout at the competition, which encourages youth to learn about vong co, an art form that is part of cai luong theatre.
Performing at the city's HTV Theatre, the dynamic performer sang extracts from Nghia Si Can Giuoc (Can Giuoc's Farmer-Soldiers), a drama written by Nguyen Minh Tuan and Dang Minh and chosen for the occasion by Trang for its epic quality and its theme of patriotism.
"I've had many difficulties, but I refused to give up my dream," said Trang, after her win.
Born into a poor family in Bac Lieu Province, Trang began singing cai luong when she was a child, but her parents could not afford music lessons.
In 2002, she met Minh Sang and Thien Vu, two of Bac Lieu's best cai luong performers, who offered to train her after recognising her potential.
"My teachers encouraged me to become a professional cai luong artist," Trang was quoted as saying in a recent interview with HCM City's Phu Nu (Women) newspaper.
Her later work with the professional singers of the Military Zone 9 Art Troupe also helped improve her skills.
Her colleagues, she said, were instrumental in encouraging her to choose cai luong as a career.
After leaving the troupe in 2004, Trang joined the Tai Tu (traditional tunes) Club in Can Tho.
In 2010, she and 32 other candidates reached the semi-final round at the Golden Bell contest, which is held every year.
Earlier this year, her performance in Nghia Si Can Giuoc, another singing contest in which she won the top prize, received a warm response from the 300-strong audience at HTV Theatre.
"For me, performing cai luong is not about earning glory. The art is about my country's spirit," she said.
Trang said she had been working hard to attract new audiences to the traditional musical genre.
Her two biggest competitors in this year's Golden Bell contest, Le Thi Ngoc Thao of Long An Province and Nguyen Van Dang of Bac Giang, received the silver and bronze prizes, respectively.
"We hope young talents like Trang, Thao and Dang work together to revive cai luong," said the well-respected music professor, Tran Van Khe, after the contest. —VNS