|String chorus: Vietnamese zitherists perform during the first evening of a music festival at HCM City Conservatory of Music on Monday. — VNS Photo Khanh Van
HCM CITY (VNS) — Fourteen overseas Vietnamese musicians have returned to Viet Nam to perform at a zither festival organised by the HCM City Conservatory of Music and the city's Labour Cultural Palace from June 30-July 4.
The five-day festival will feature artists from the Tieng Hat Que Huong Club, the traditional music department of the HCM City Conservatory of Music, the Huong Viet Zither Club from the US, the Phuong Ca Club from France and others.
The festival featuring the traditional Vietnamese 16-stringed instrument or dan tranh in Vietnamese will include 60 performers from Viet Nam and other countries.
Zitherists Minh Ngoc and Thuy Tien, who will return from the US to take part in the festival, will offer their own distinctive style.
Artist Viet Hai, who is a medical doctor in the US, told Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper that he expresses his patriotism through the music.
"Every time I return to Viet Nam, I have a different emotion. This time, I feel very happy as I have an opportunity to play the zither for a local audience, speak Vietnamese and meet friends who love the 16-stringed instrument," he said.
Teacher Pham Thuy Hoan, head of the Tieng Hat Que Huong Club, said the event has been organised several times, but this is the first time that overseas Vietnamese zitherists will perform.
"I know a 16-stringed zither is popular among Vietnamese communities in France, Australia, Canada and the US. I hope more and more artists will return to Viet Nam to join us," she said.
"During a meeting like this, I see people's love and passion for the musical instrument and traditional music in general. I have met several people who've travelled a long way from Tay Ninh, Tien Giang, Can Tho, and other provinces to HCM City to attend the event," Hoan said.
After a performance this evening, a seminar on preserving and developing musical instruments will be chaired by Professor Tran Van Khe, a master of traditional Vietnamese music and a famous zitherist, at the HCM City Labour Cultural Palace next morning. The artists will attend an event organised at Khe's house in Binh Thanh District on Friday night.
The Vietnamese zither has a trapezium-shape and is 110-120cm in length. The large end is 25-30cm wide with holes to hang the strings. The narrow end is 15-20cm wide with 16 tuning keys on the surface of the instrument. The strings, now made of steel, were initially made of silk and then, copper.
Players use a plectrum on the thumb and play with all fingers. The music of the zither is usually lively and full of cheer. The instrument is often performed solo or in concert, accompanied by chantings of poems, songs or a traditional orchestra. — VNS