The sixth national festival celebrating the art of Then singing and the Tinh gourd lute of the Tay, Nung, and Thai ethnic groups took place in mid last month in the northernmost province of Ha Giang. The festival gathered more than 500 artisans from 14 provinces nationwide. Joining many senior artisans at the festival were very young artists in their twenties.
19-year-old Tran Thanh An of Cao Bang provincial art troupe told VOV that he started to study Tay ethnic language in order to learn Then singing when he was 14.
"I heard Then singing since I was very little and my love for this folk art has grown with time. This has encouraged me to pursue this art form professionally. My mom is a Tay ethnic and we live in Cao Bang province, two factors that brought me closer to Then singing," said An.
Many Then singing festivals and seminars have been held in recent years to seek ways to better promote the folk art.
"Local people’s awareness on preserving Then singing has improved remarkably. At such festivals, it’s encouraging to see that many ancient versions of Then singing have been well preserved. Old artisans have passed down all their knowledge, singing skills, as well as passion to the younger generations. You can only perform Then singing once you have studied the art thoroughly. A number of ancient versions of Then singing have been lost and it’s urgent to devise plans to preserve this cultural heritage of Vietnam," said Trieu Thi Tinh, Deputy Director of the Ha Giang provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
From 2002 to 2016, the Association of Vietnam’s Folklorists conferred the title of “folklore artisans” to Then singers. Starting from 2015, Then singers have been honored with Emeritus Artist title presented by the State President.
Other activities to preserve The singing include listing, identifying, documenting, recording, and collecting materials about Then singing with the participation of senior Then singers. Artifacts related to the art form are put on display in museums across Vietnam. Classes on Then singing and Tinh musical instrument playing are organized regularly in localities that are home to Then singing.
"Over the past 6 festivals, Then singing has become more popular among a wider public. Best performances of Then singing have been brought to these events. We are confident to say that preserving Then singing has become an obvious task of all Vietnamese people," said Associate Professor Dang Hoanh Loan, former Head of the Vietnam National Academy of Music.
"These festivals are contributing to the preparations for a dossier to ask for UNESCO’s recognition of Then singing as a cultural heritage of humanity. Also through these events, a young generation of Then singing lovers have been born with strong passion and determination to promote the art form," Loan added.