National fest honours art of ca tru singing Ca Tru and Quan Ho folksongs recognized by UNESCO
Kim Duc will share the stage with her students who are all well-known in “Ca tru” and “Cheo” (traditional operetta) circles in Vietnam, such as Dang Cong Hung from the Cheo Theatre of Vietnam, Doan Thanh Binh from the Vietnam Academy of Theatre and Cinema, and People’s Artist Nguyen Xuan Hoach from the Vietnam National Music Song and Dance.
The show will feature many special songs in different styles of “Ca tru” singing such as ‘Ho Tay’ (West Lake) composed by poet Nguyen Khuyen and ‘Trang An hoai co’ (Nostalgic Trang An) by Nguyen Cong Tru.
Pho Thi Kim Duc was born and grew up in a family with a tradition of singing “Ca tru” and her father was choir master at the Kham Thien “Ca tru” troupe in Hanoi.
She started learning to sing Ca tru at the age of 7 and by the age of 13 she had began to perform “Ca tru”. Kim Duc is also a famous Cheo singer for Radio the Voice of Vietnam.
‘Ca Tru’, also known as “hat a dao” or “hat noi” which dates back to the 15th century, has been listed among 12 intangible global cultural heritage traditions in danger of disappearing.
Ca Tru, like many old and highly developed arts, has many forms. However, the most widely known and widely performed type of “Ca tru” involves only three performers: the female vocalist, a lute player and a spectator (who also takes part in the performance).
The female singer provides the vocals whilst playing her “phach” (small wooden sticks beaten on a small bamboo box) as percussion. She is accompanied by a “dan day” player, a long-necked, three-stringed lute used almost exclusively for “Ca tru”.
Last is the spectator (often a scholar or connoisseur of the art) who strikes a “trong chau” (drum) in praise or disapproval of the singer’s performance, usually after every verse. The way in which the drum is struck provides a commentary on the performance, but it is always done according to the beat provided by the vocalist’s “phach” percussion.
Ca Tru, precious part of Vietnam’s cultural treasure, was recognized by the UNESCO as a world intangible cultural heritage in 2010.