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Ca tru brought back from brink

Viet Nam will ask the UNESCO to take the ancient north Vietnamese ca tru form of traditional singing off the list of endangered world cultural heritage.

Ca tru brought back from brink
Ca tru brought back from brink

Musician and researcher Dang Hoanh Loan said that after five years of training and encouragement, many young people are capable of singing in the traditional style.

Several famous, but elderly performers helped in the reconstruction.

Ca tru features a female singer accompanied by a small group of musicians. It has been popular for more than 500 years.The art genre was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding by UNESCO on October 1, 2009.

Originally, it was a form of entertainment for wealthy people and was even performed for royalty.

“Only a decade or so ago, ca tru was an unknown art form to most younger Vietnamese,” said Loan. “Few elderly people had seen a performance since they were young. It was basically unknown even in the areas considered cradles of the art. But now, ca tru can be considered popular.

“When it was listed as a dying art, only about 20 people could sing ca tru and there were few skillful musicians. Now about 300 people can sing.

“At first they had only a couple of basic forms of ca tru, but can now perform 11 styles.”

National festival

To celebrate the survival of the ancient style of singing known as ca tru, a national festival is being held in Ha Noi. It will end tomorrow.

The festival aims to further popularise the style of singing by featuring nearly 30 ca tru troupes from northern Viet Nam.

It is being used to encourage young singers to study and stick with this traditional art.

At the four-day festival, each troupe will perform a repertoire with a maximum duration of 30 minutes.

The festival, organised by the Viet Nam Musicology Institute, has encouraged clubs, troupes and individuals to perform unusual and rare forms of the art form that have been saved.

This is the first time the musicology institute asked the ca tru clubs to send tapes recording repertoires for appraisement.