Culture Culture

07/04/2019 - 07:26

Vo Que - the Poet, Chairman of Chamber Ca Hue Club:

Beginning with the young

Together with the works of the 18 Vietnamese poets, Ca Hue (Hue singing) has just “gone abroad” in the project “Lanterns Hanging on the Wind,” produced by the poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai in collaboration with a university in America. The broadcast was on air in early 2019 at many universities in the United States.

Vo Que - the poet. Photo: Phan Thanh

Vo Que, the poet and Chairman of Chamber Ca Hue Club says that in the autumn of 2018, the writer Que Mai told him he wanted to introduce Ca Hue in a project aiming at promoting the Vietnamese culture to the world. Vo Que recommended the two very Hueish artists: Da Le with the love song Canh buoi trang (lyrics by Vo Que,) Kim Lien with Nam Xuan and Hong Le who played solo Tu Dai Canh with dan bau (Vietnamese monochord zither.)

With many years attached to Ca Hue, is there anything you want to say about this cultural event?

The program introduced many Vietnamese poets such as Tuyet Lan, Luu Quang Vu, Xuan Quynh, Giang Nam, Nguyen Quang Thieu, Ly Hoang Ly, etc., as well as some folk songs representing the three areas in Vietnam. The program has been broadcast by many radio stations in the United States. This is a precious opportunity for Ca Hue to be known more in the world.

This is not the first time for Ca Hue to “go abroad,” isn’t it?

In 1970, artist Tran Kich and Ba Vu Group performed Ca Hue for the first time in Japan. Ca Hue Club belonging to Hue Cultural Center of which I am the Chairman, performed in America (1995), Taiwan (1998) and Korea (2007).

From 1995 onwards, Phu Xuan Court Music Club, managed by artist Tran Thao, performed in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. Recently in July 2017, I also had an opportunity to introduce Ca Hue at University of Massachusetts (the United States).

Going abroad with Ca Hue, I feel so proud to find many people who love Ca Hue. Prof. Fred Marchant (William Joiner Institute, the United States) is an example. He loves Ca Hue so much that he always keeps in this bedroom records of Ca Hue obtained in his trips to Hue.

How about in Hue, the place where Ca Hue was born?

At the beginning of this year, sponsored by the Department of Culture and Sports and Ca Hue Management and Performance Center, the book “Talent and Hard Work” about the careers of Ca Hue artists was published. I went to their houses to present them the books. They were very happy. They thought they had been forgotten.

What should we do to prevent Ca Hue, as well as other traditional values, from being forgotten?

A performance of Ca Hue in the Imperial City. Source: Space for Chamber Ca Hue

Years ago, when artist Nguyen Ke passed away, many people were asking themselves who else would play ty ba (a kind of Vietnamese zither)? Fortunately there are now about 500 singers who have been granted with performance cards, and a new generation of singers who are very determined to maintain their interest in chamber Ca Hue including Quynh Hoa, Hong Le, Hong Thanh, Le Hoa, Quynh Nga, Thu Hang, Hien Luong, Quoc Tuan, etc. There are also many generations of Ca Hue singers in a family such as ones of Dinh Hung, Van Viet, Kim Quy, etc. Some are very young such as Huong Thuy, Le Minh Vu, Phan Duy Khanh, Nhu Quynh, Anh Hong, Anh Tuyet, etc.  They are still at college; even some are 4th-form pupils.

It seems that at the forums on Ca Hue, you pinned many hopes and beliefs on the young generation?

In my view, everything initiates from the young. The question is how we help them access things. Elderly people often said “One doesn’t love if one doesn’t understand.” We just need to feel its aroma. Ca Hue will give its fragrance naturally by itself. 

In order to help the young access Ca Hue, you and other artists in Ca Hue Club are bringing Ca Hue to schools, aren’t you?

Up til now, we have collaborated with schools to organize a few exchange programs between artists and students. I admit that the introduction of Ca Hue to schools is not profound and frequent enough.

In the syllabus for 7th-form Literature, there is the reading text ‘Ca Hue on the Perfume River’ by Ha Anh Minh. This is the excuse for teachers and the school staff to plan a practice activity. Watching and listening directly to artists performing is good for training students’ music perceptiveness. We must introduce and promote Ca Hue so that the young can easily access it.

As the one who has fallen in love with Ca Hue and has been performing it yourself, then has worked as “an impresario” for Ca Hue, could you please share with us things you are cherishing and concerned about?

Alive, artist Thanh Tung had wanted to promote Ca Hue to a higher position. It is also our desire.

Fortunately the young today have been gradually finding ways to access Ca Hue through the College of Arts and Culture, Hue Institute of Music or well-known artists. Some students have chosen Ca Hue as the topic for their BA’s, MA’s or PhD’s degrees. The fact that hundreds of young artists perform Ca Hue every night in restaurants, hotels and on the Perfume River shows an enduring influx of Ca Hue.

Many people who love Ca Hue as much as we do are working every day to accumulate documents, train next artist generations and audience, etc. with the hope that Ca Hue will be honored someday by the world. 

In order for the influx of Ca Hue to run smoothly without being blocked, besides handing down and continuity, we need to access new ideas in performance organization, communication, conservation, etc.

Is the Chamber Ca Hue Club managed by you now searching for new directions: conserving, spreading Ca Hue while receiving selectively creative ideas from others? 

The idea of forming Chamber Ca Hue Club in the Museum of Hue Culture as a living museum arose from my experience, following a model in Korea. With the direction of combining display and performance and serving as a place for practice, the club has gained some good results in conservation, promotion and training. Many people think I have been successful. But I think I will be truly successful only when the club will still exist and develop even after I will have left.

It means the continuity. I always believe in the youth. I believe the younger generation will do better than us. It is the future of Ca Hue which is being cherished and cultivated.