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New opera’s secret weapon: Kiều Tấn

Update: October, 05/2016 - 09:00
Traditional singer Vân Khánh (centre) is popular among youth for singing songs based on cải lương music by veteran composer and producer Kiều Tấn. VNS File Photo
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Millions of theatre lovers in HCM City and Mekong River Delta provinces have been entertained by traditional music programmes on HCM City Television (HTV).

Since its first show in 2006, Chuông Vàng Vọng Cổ (Nostalgia Golden Bell), one of  HTV’s most popular music programmes, has supported dozens of young talents, helping them develop their career in cải lương (renovated opera).   

The programme has also offered new theatre concepts. 

While audiences are interested in the art, young actors are focused on a man behind the show -- renowned theatre researcher, director and producer Kiều Tấn.  

Tấn, former head of HTV’s Theatre and Music Unit, has worked in the industry more than 40 years.

Before 1975 he worked as a cultural researcher for the Institute of Music Research led by composer Lưu Hưu Phước. Tấn wrote several documents and books on Vietnamese southern music and instruments. 

One of his works, Cây Đàn Ghi Ta Phím Lõm (A Vietnamese guitar with five strings), was translated and published in Europe in 1997. 

“After being involved in research, I began to understand how knowledge and experience in my writing had helped improve my ability in composing and producing," said Tấn, referring to his migration to the stage in 1995 when he worked for HTV.

"I learned that theatre is life, while my research was useless. Directors and actors make their art lively and bring it to people in different ways," he said last month after releasing his latest production, Tuyển Tập Nhạc: 80 Ca Khúc Kiều Tấn (Collection of Kiều Tấn’s 80 songs), a collection of CDs performed by famous artists.  

"I wanted to write, compose and direct traditional music programmes filled with light, sound and visual effects," he said in a recent press interview.     

An HTV producer, Tấn has helped many young artistes improve their talent by training through performing.  

Thanks to his shows, rural students and farmers, such as Võ Minh Lâm, Lê Văn Gàn, Võ Thành Phê and Hồ Ngọc Trinh, have become professional actors.    

“Tấn is a great man of cải lương,” said Phê, winner of the 2008 Chuông Vàng Vọng Cổ, a TV contest designed to support young talent in cải lương, launched by veteran HTV artistes, including Tấn.   

“Tấn’s TV shows were a place for amateur and young artistes to perfect their voice and performance skills without going to school. He helped poor farmers like me believe that theatre can open a future for everyone, poor or rich, old or young,” he added.

Tấn has worked with music producers to release albums combining  cải lương and pop music to attract young audiences.  

Young people have enjoyed his songs based on cải lương such as Vạn Xuân (Springs), Sài Gòn Nắng Sài Gòn Mưa (Sài Gòn - Rain and Shine) and Dạ Khúc Bướm Hoa (Serenade of Flowers and Butterflies).

Most of his works are stories about love and youth. They have helped young singers like Vân Khánh, Hồ Trung Dũng, Như Ý and Hồ Bích Ngọc become popular.

“I love singing songs composed by Tấn because his music is based on traditional tunes,” said pop star Đàm Vĩnh Hưng, who performed on Tấn’s album Nỗi Buồn Trăm Năm (100 Years of Sadness), a production distributed by Phương Nam Film.

Tấn said, “I’m very interested in working with young actors. I believe that they will help to preserve traditional music and theatre, including cải lương.” — VNS


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