Hanoi is preserving and promoting Ca Tru ceremonial singing by training the younger generation and organizing public performances, hoping to soon remove Ca Tru from UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritages in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
|A performance of Hanoi's Ca Tru Singing Club
In front of an ancient house at 87 Ma May street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, passers-by can catch performances of Ca Tru ceremonial singing at 7 p.m. almost every day. Ca Tru is a complex form of sung poetry found in the north of Vietnam using lyrics written in traditional Vietnamese poetic forms. It fulfills different social purposes, including worship singing, singing for entertainment, singing in royal palaces and competitive singing.
In 2009, Ca Tru become Vietnam’s fourth intangible heritage recognized by UNESCO following recognition of Hue Royal Court Music, the Central Highlands gong space, and Bac Ninh duet singing.
Measures taken by the municipal authorities to promote Ca Tru singing include honoring Ca Tru singers and helping local Ca Tru clubs participate in competitions and festivals. At such competitions and festivals, new singing talent has been discovered.
Musician Dang Hoanh Loan told VOV "Many talented young singers have been discovered at Ca Tru singing contests in Hanoi. Young singers learn from their predecessors by listening to recordings of famous Ca Tru singers. This is a very encouraging sign for Hanoi’s Ca Tru scene."
|Artisan Phung Thi Hong (second from right) shares her skills with young Ca Tru singers.
Ca Tru appeals to discriminating listeners but promoting Ca Tru to a wider public is essential if Ca Tru is to survive and grow. Hanoi’s Dong Anh district has added Ca Tru singing to the official school curriculum of Lien Ha commune, the birthplace of the celebrated Lo Khe Ca Tru singing.
"Adding Ca Tru singing to the school curriculum will introduce the art form to the younger generation at an early age, which will help to promote the art in the long run," said Phung Thi Hong, Head of the Vietnam Music Development Center.
Vu Thi Thuy Linh of the Phu Thi Ca Tru Singing Club told VOV "Insiders like us really need places to practice and perform Ca Tru. More competitions should be organized on a frequent basis."
Hanoi has the most Ca Tru singers and clubs in Vietnam.