Southern city acquaints visitors with traditional art forms
Update: Feb 22, 2022
A programme to entertain tourists with several genres of traditional music like tai tu, vong co and cai luong has been launched in Can Tho City.

Artists perform tai tu music as part of a programme launched by the Tay Do Theatre in Can Tho City. The performances of tai tu , vong co and cai luong art forms aim to entertain visitors. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

The programme, held by the Tay Do Theatre, will also include talks about the various art forms as well as the traditional instruments used, including the kim (two-stringed guitar), co (vertical violin with two strings), tranh (16-chord zither) and bau (monochord zither).

Tai tu is a genre of chamber music particular to southern Viet Nam, while vong co focuses on nostalgic melodies and cai luong is a form of reformed opera.

The programme will feature more than 20 actors from the Tay Do Theatre and dozens of amateur performers from tai tu music clubs in Can Tho.

The shows start at 8am every Saturday and Sunday at the Cai Rang floating market, a favoured tourist site in the city.

“We hope to bring tai tu music closer to visitors and help young people understand the role of traditional arts,” said Hong Thuy of the Tay Do Theatre, one of the programme’s creators.

Thuy and her colleagues participated in the programme’s first tai tu and cai luong performances on February 5. The audience got to meet the artists after the show and benefit from impromptu lessons on singing and playing the different instruments.

Their performances included Da Co Hoai Lang (Night Drumbeats for an Absent Husband), a popular tai tu song written in 1919 by well-known composer Cao Van Lau, a native of the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

The song tells of the love, anguish and pride of a young woman watching her husband fight for the country.  

“I hope to get further support from local authorities to host more shows this year,” said Thuy, who has been a performer for ten years.

Tai tu music, a traditional art form in southern Viet Nam, was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2013. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

Tai tu  music originated in southern Viet Nam about 100 years ago. It is a prototype for vong co and cai luong, performed during festivals and special occasions in the Mekong Delta provinces of Can Tho, Vinh Long, Bac Lieu and Ca Mau.

The music is performed at traditional festivals, weddings and death anniversaries in the region.

In 2013, the music was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UN culture agency UNESCO.

The Tay Do Theatre has worked with the Tran Huu Trang Cai Luong Theatre in HCM City to present its programme to visitors.

The two theatres will work together to stage the famous cai luong play titled Nang Xe Da (Princess Xe Da) in Can Tho in March and April.

Directed by Hoa Ha, the play is a tragedy involving love, jealousy and betrayal. It deals with the relationship between Xe Da, a beautiful and courageous woman, and her husband, Prince Po-li-em, who destroys his love and marriage with extreme jealousy.

The play made its debut in HCM City last year.

“We’re interested in the Tay Do Theatre’s programme that promotes tai tu and cai luong” music, said Phan Quoc Kiet, director of the Tran Huu Trang Theatre.

“Our shows will target visitors who love to discover local culture and lifestyle during their visits.”