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Vi giam singing given UNESCO certificate

Update: February, 02/2015 - 08:33
Intangible heritage: Artists perform a vi giam folk song. The art form has been recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Various rhythms of vi giam singing were performed during a ceremony on Saturday night in Vinh City in the central province of Nghe An.

The ceremony celebrated UNESCO's recognition of the Nghe An-Ha Tinh region's folk singing as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. UNESCO announced the decision at the ninth session of its Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Paris last November.

National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, Deputy Prime Ministers Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Vu Duc Dam and other high ranking state and governmental leaders participated in the event.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chief of the UNESCO office in Ha Noi Katherine Muller Marin said vi giam folk singing satisfied all criteria for UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural heritage and was highly appreciated by members of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Preserving Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The UN cultural agency representative also expressed her hope to see more efforts by the authorities and people of the two provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh to preserve and further promote this art form.

After receiving the UNESCO certificate, Minister of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh unveiled a national action programme to preserve and promote the values of vi giam.

Vi giam are the ninth Vietnamese cultural practice to receive UNESCO's intangible heritage status.

The vitality of vi giam folk songs is reflected in their popularity, from lullabies to fishing chants. These folk songs are often sung with the accents of people in the Nghe An and Ha Tinh regions.

The folk music is a back-and-forth sung while working, unaccompanied by musical instruments. It reflects the work, cultural life and feelings of the locals in the central coastal provinces.

This type of folk singing is popular in nearly 260 villages in the central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh. The two provinces have 51 singing clubs with over 800 members.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Dang Thi Bich Lien said the recognition of vi giam as a cultural masterpiece of humanity was of great significance to Viet Nam since the folk genre played an important role in bringing the local community together.

The country committed to implementing an action programme to preserve vi giam singing, carrying out policies to honour veteran singers and intensifying communication campaigns to educate young generations on this type of art.

Preserving the rhythm

Deputy Chairwoman of Nghe An People's Committee Dinh Thi Le Thanh said she was moved to tears when she heard the UNESCO committee's chairman announced that vi giam was recognised as the world's intangible cultural heritage treasure.

"I cried when I called my colleagues at midnight to inform them that Viet Nam had one more heritage recognised by the UN cultural agency," she said.

However, recognition was only the first step, she added. The country should acknowledge the necessity of working out specific measures to preserve the heritage, thus helping promote the cultural identity and boost sustainable development of the two provinces.

Since 1996, the departments of culture of Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces have carried out many projects to preserve and promote vi giam singing among people. Singing has been taught at local schools and featured on television. Clubs of professional and amateur singers often organise performances and festivals.

In the near future, the two provincial departments of culture will work together to enhance music training and broadcasts, co-operate with travel companies to introduce the music to tourists and support senior singers in reviving old tunes.

"This year, we target to develop a network of vi giam singing clubs in the region," she said. "It's expected that 40 per cent of communes will have clubs of vi giam singers."— VNS

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