Viet Nam News
Musician Đặng Hoành Loan is former deputy head of the Việt Nam Institute of Musicology. He has researched ca trù (ceremonial singing) for many years, contributing to the dossier submitted to UNESCO on Intangible Cultural Heritages in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2009. He has participated in national ca trù festivals as general director, including the fourth edition which closed on Monday in the central province of Hà Tĩnh.
Ca trù is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Việt Nam from the 11th century on, using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms. Loan spoke about the development of ca trù in Hà Nội
Ca trù was recognised by UNESCO nearly ten years ago. As part of the effort to implement the dossier, Việt Nam has kept the national ca trù festival going after holding it for the first time in 2008. What do you think of ca trù development in Hà Nội?
We have to recognise that Hà Nội is one of the leading centres in the whole country in preservation and development of ca trù. Ca trù clubs in Hà Nội have done well in organisation, research and performance activities. The number of clubs has increased dramatically. Hà Nội clubs have most of the talented performers. More and more young people can sing ca trù.
Hà Nội is a big centre right now. Audiences in Hà Nội really like ca trù and they are contributing to its continuation. A competition held recently in the city showed that many young people want to participate. They spend their money to learn the folk singing and many of them find success.
I think ca trù is really valuable in the life of Hanoians.
In your opinion, what is the difference between young ca trù singers in Hà Nội and other provinces and cities?
There are two forms of preservation and development of the art genre in Hà Nội. They are organisations and individuals. The organisations are clubs set up by ca trù lovers to satisfy their demand. They aim to make it popular. Private individuals also learn singing. Many are talented and they become clubs members after they finish learning.
This is typical character of Hà Nội ca trù because it is a good place to learn and perform, and audiences are interested. As a result, Hà Nội lures many talents from other places.
Many provinces and cities are lacking a master singer. They have to invite masters from Hà Nội clubs to teach young students. In this way, Hà Nội plays an important role in preservation and development of the singing.
What is the most important factor in Hà Nội’s ca trù preservation and development?
It is participation of Hà Nội’s culture managers. I know authorities of Hà Nội’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and know that they have a passion for ca trù and are responsible for its preservation and development. The city’s cultural authority has held numerous festivals on ceremonial singing.
The authorities are aware of the importance of ca trù and give favourable conditions to clubs. Hà Nội is a good example of how the country can easily preserve and develop the genre if we are aware of its heritage value.
Is preservation or development the most important?
Both preservation and development are important. We should carry them out side by side, not just one or the other. This requires a good level of cultural awareness.
I held an experimental performance at the opening ceremony of the National Ca Trù Festival in Hà Tĩnh on November 1. A voice recording of a 92-year-old ca trù master singer accompanied modern instruments and modern dance.
This performance reflects that preservation and development need to suit modern life. Our intangible heritage should move in accordance with life today. Audiences will contribute to the development of ca trù. Singers and musicians need to be assisted. It is necessary to support contemporary artists in bringing the art form closer to young audiences. This will make modern Vietnamese music distinctive. — VNS