Ca tru troupe joins ranks of singing elite
HA NOI — A recently formed professional ca tru (ceremonial singing) troupe called the Thang Long Ca Tru Troupe has given its first official performance to a Ha Noi audience.
Jam session: Ca tru singer and dan day player Pham Thi Hue (middle) performs at Giang Vo Village's communal house with Nguyen Phu De (left) and Nguyen Thi Chuc (right). — File Photo
The troupe stems from the Thang Long Ca Tru Club, which was set up by elderly artisans Nguyen Phu De and Nguyen Thi Chuc in 2006.
"The change from a club into a professional troupe marks a turning point for our group," singer Pham Thi Hue, who is also a teacher of ti ba (a four-string, pear-shaped lute) at the National Academy of Music, told Viet Nam News. "From now on, our activities will be more professional and well-organised rather than small-scale and spontaneous like before." The troupe has around 20 singers and musicians, who give performances at Restaurant Old Ha Noi at 4 Ton That Thiep Street every night between 7-9pm.
The troupe has tried to introduce different instruments into performances like the ti ba, tranh (16-stringed zither), along with the traditional dan day, (long-necked three string lute) and phach (small wooden sticks beaten on a small bamboo block to serve as percussion).
Hue said the troupe would try to diversify its art with creations based on traditional instruments.
The troupe will also revive some greeting songs like the birthday greeting to old people, the new house greeting and songs of worship at village festivals.
Meanwhile, core members of the club still maintain regular activities, guiding audiences and ca tru fans at Ha Noi's Giang Vo Village's Communal House, 612 De La Thanh Street, drawing a crowd of between 10 and 30 members every Friday night.
Musicologist Prof. Tran Van Khe noted that the change from a club into a professional troupe meant the artists had set themselves higher standards than when they were only a club.
"Creating new features of a traditional art is a challenging task," he said, " They should be careful as creation is a double-edged sword. We don't rely totally on tradition but we should preserve the ancient rules of the art. Otherwise, we may destroy tradition." — VNS