PSNews - "Quan Ho", the love duet folk singing recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009, has been accredited with the Northern province of Bac Ninh for ages. Yet, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh’s neighboring province has developed its own traditional typical tune of Quan Ho that many have never listened to.
Bac Ninh and Bac Giang are separated by the Cau River, in northern Vietnam. For a long time, many villages on the two river banks have been twinned and fostered their close relationship through traditional cultural customs, particularly Quan ho folk singing.
If Quan ho Bac Ninh is well-known, Quan ho Bac Giang is still not very popular. In Bac Giang, there are quite a few old-aged artisans who still love and often practice singing Quan ho. There are a number of Quan ho singing clubs with members aged from 70 to 90 in Trung Dong village (Van Trung commune), Dinh Ca village (Quang Minh commune) or Tam Tang village (Quang Chau commune).
|Quan ho is also popular in Bac Giang.
In spite of their old ages, local artisans still memorize hundreds of ancient Quan ho folk songs. Even though singing without music, they still show the soul and nature of Quan ho singing. Listening to their Quan ho singing, one can feel various emotions, such as faraway lovers’ deep longing, sadness and desire as well as joy and happiness of meeting lovers.
Moreover, those artisans also voluntarily pass on this precious traditional cultural assets to the next generations. The famous Quan ho singing couple named Phu Hiep and Dang Nam (Tho Ha village) are the singers that are fostered grew up by artisans of the clubs.
In 2012, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of UNESCO, Phu Hiep and Dang Nam became representatives of Vietnam to perform Quan ho folk singing in Paris.
It is known that Bac Giang province has organized and launched various programs to preserve its traditional Quan ho singing, such as organizing a contest to collect and perform ancient Quan ho folk songs, opening free Quan ho singing courses or building Quan ho cultural houses.
The Quan Ho singing movement has spread widely in almost all villages in the province. They sing Quan ho folk songs at rituals, festivals, contest stages and informal gatherings.
One of the highlights in Quan ho singing conservation in Bac Giang is the annual Quan ho Singing Festival, which has been maintained for decades at the Bon Da festival. This festival has contributed to the implementation of commitments of Vietnam in general and Bac Giang province in particular to UNESCO in conserving and developing Quan ho folk songs.
Quan ho songs express the spirit, philosophy and local identity of the communities in this region, and help forge social bonds within and between villages that share a cherished cultural practice.
The songs are performed as alternating verses between two women from one village who sing in harmony, and two men from another village who respond with similar melodies, but with different lyrics. The women traditionally wear distinctive large round hats and scarves; the men’s costumes include turbans, umbrellas and tunics.By Linh Bui