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Xoan singing still going strong after 4,000 years

Update: October, 08/2015 - 09:47
Revivalists: Children in Phu Tho Province are being taught xoan singing at school. — Photo disanxanh.vn
PHU THO  (VNS) — Phu Tho Province's cultural authority has said the introduction of xoan singing in schools will play a major role in preserving and promoting the provincial heritage.

The decision is part of efforts to remove xoan singing from the list of UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.

Authorities hope that because of its resurrection, xoan singing can be upgraded to the list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The local department of education and training has prepared plans for introducing the teaching of and organising xoan singing in all educational units in the province. Each educational unit will apply different methods so that xoan singing is taught in the most effective way.

The province's students will not only study, understand and learn how to sing but also actively participate in xoan performances, which will contribute to wide promotion of the unique local art form.

Le Hong Anh, a student of 4G in Gia Cam Primary School, said she has been learning xoan singing at school for a long time, and was able to sing many xoan songs. She said she was very keen on learning more songs.

Nguyen Ngoc An, director of the provincial department of culture, sports and tourism, said the department would co-operate with the department of education and training to introduce xoan singing in the school curriculum.

The department will also provide more documents with instructions, program-mes and plans to xoan clubs and cultural houses to open classes for students, especially during summer vacation, in addition to inviting artists to teach the art form.

Activities for promoting better understanding of xoan singing are taking place in schools throughout the province, demonstrating the efficiency and rightness of educating children about cultural heritage.

Xoan singing, or dinh (communal hall) singing, is said to have appeared about 4,000 years ago, during the time of the Hung Kings. It was usually performed at spring festivals in front of communal houses. For this reason, it is also called hat cua dinh (singing in front of the communal house).

Xoan singing was organised not only to entertain villagers and honour the founding Hung Kings of Viet Nam, but also to pray for good weather and harvests, praise landscapes and depict daily life in rural areas.

Despite annual performances at the festival at the Hung Kings' Temple, xoan singing was once at risk of dying out because members of the younger generations had never heard it.

The UNESCO listed xoan singing as part of the world's intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent protection in 2011.

In 2013, Phu Tho's People's Committee prepared a VND165-billion (US$7.85 million) project, entitled Maintaining and Developing Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – Xoan Singing in Phu Tho in 2013-2020, funded by the Government. — VNS

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