“I am choosing a mobile phone case when I hear a very familiar melody sung by a totally strange voice. I ask my sweetie to come and find out what it is,” says 20-year old Ro Mah Hung explaining why he called his girlfriend to attend the free folk music show performed in front of the Dong Xuan Market gate in Hanoi.
Hung’s girlfriend does not seem very pleased on being asked to attend the performance of Vietnamese folk lullabies on such a beautiful Saturday night. But she obliges, to please him.
Hung's sweetheart is an exception though.
Most of the people who have been gathering at the market to watch the show, which features Vietnamese folk singing arts including ca tru (ceremonial song,) hat xam (song of strolling blind musician) and hat van (kind of singing in a Vietnamese ancient religious seánce) have been enthralled.
The free outdoor show concert is organized and performed by artists with the Center of Developing Vietnamese Music Art on Saturdays. The artists say they have attempted to explore many types of lullabies from different regions, look for new singers and introduce different costumes.
The audience is transported to another world by the performances as the melodies also tell stories that tug at the heart.
Bac Ninh’s ru hoi (part of Bac Ninh’s famous quan ho repertoire) for instance, has a lullaby inspired by the story of Thi Kinh (a famous heroine in Vietnamese legend who is treated unjustly for a sin that she did not commit).
Last Saturday, the audiences were captivated by ru ún (lullaby sung by the Muong minority) performed in both Muong and Vietnamese languages. Giving added poignancy to the songs was the accompaniment of ong oi ( a sacred music instrument of the Muong people.) Scores of passers by were drawn by the sounds and stayed to listen.
A particularly surprising development with the show seems to be the popular entertaining venue its appeal across all ages.
Songwriter Thao Giang, deputy director of the Center of Developing Vietnamese Music Art said excitedly that they appear to have erred in their assumptions.
“We have planned the show since 2008, and at that time, we thought that it would only draw the attention of the elderly. But now, young people are also gathering” Giang said heartily.
Twenty-seven-year-old Dong Huyen Trang said that although she has not had children of her own yet, she loved the lullabies performed in the show. She said she was so captivated that she was recording the performance on her cell phone to listen to them later.
Holding the scripts and standing in a corner of the stage, Giang said that Vietnam’s lullaby was easy to sing and absorb.
“One of the best chances to honor the lullaby is the national festival of lullabies but the last one was held six years ago" he said.
"We are planning a project within which we will have performances and a seminar in September"
"If we are encouraged and supported, we hope to honor and invite some of the best experts on lullabies like professor and songwriter To Vu, music composers Lu Nhat Vu, Le Giang and schoolmaster Pham Minh Khang,” he said.
Like us on Facebook and scroll down to share your comment