Friday, September 21 2018


Zitherists pluck tradition

Update: September, 19/2012 - 10:01


Dexterous: Nguyen Thi Hai Phuong, who has won top awards at local and international music competitions, will perform at the festival. — VNS File Photo
HCM CITY (VNS)— Musicians from Ha Noi, Hue, HCM City and Tokyo will participate in the third annual Zither Festival in HCM City this week.

Zitherists will perform traditional music at the four-day festival.

Several exhibitions and talks by music professors. including musicologist Tran Van Khe, will be held.

Khe spent years researching the zither, a traditional multi-stringed instrument.

The zither is known as koto in Japan, kayagum and komungo in Korea and guzheng in Singapore.

Kayagum and komungo are played with the fingertips while other zithers are played with plectrums.

In Viet Nam, it is called dan tranh or dan thap luc (16-chord zither).

Singapore's guzheng is similar to Viet Nam's dan tranh 16-string guitar but it is larger and boasts between 18 and 21 cords.

The deep sounds of the kayagum are similar to that produced by Viet Nam's dan day (with a long neck and three strings, a distant cousin of the guitar) played in cheo (traditional opera).

Well-known artist Nguyen Thi Hai Phuong, who has won top awards at local and international music competitions, will perform at the festival.

One of Asia's leading zitherists, Phuong, has featured in solo and group performances in many countries, and now works as a music teacher at the city's Academy of Music.

In 2000, Phuong and her group opened the first Asian Zither Festival in HCM City by playing a tai tu traditional piece Duyen Ky Ngo (Marvellous Encounter). Tai tu music was popular in southern Viet Nam in the 19th century.

Zitherists Hong Nga and Hong Hanh will also perform.

Nga and Hanh work for the Hue Academy of Music and Viet Nam Institue of Musicology, both prestigious music schools.

The musicians will perform nha nhac (royal music), cheo (traditional opera) and tai tu traditional music.

While nha nhac is originally from Hue, cheo is popular in the northern provinces.

Japanese artists Toshiko Nagase and Kenzan Nagase will present their traditional music on the koto.

Organised by the HCM City Sound of the Homeland Club and its partners, the festival aims to preserve and popularise traditional music.

"We're interested in performing and teaching traditional music because we believe the art can connect people around the world," said Phuong, a lecturer and member of the Sound of the Homeland Club, which was founded 32 years ago.

The club offers training courses and performances, attracting nearly 150 traditional singers, dancers and music players; many of them are students and young workers.

Several traditional music exchange programmes between the club and music troupes in Canada, Japan, South Korea and France have been organised.

The four-day festival will begin at 7.30pm on Friday at the Lao Dong (Workers) Culture Palace, 55B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1. Tickets, which are free, are available at the Culture Palace. — VNS

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