Thousands of local residents and quan ho (love duets) lovers from across the country turned up at the traditional music festival.
According to Nguyen Manh Hung, head of the Culture Department of Tien Du District, the entire local police force had been mobilised to ensure security at the festival.
“All types of gambling have been banned at the event,” he said. “Other activities, such as offering fortune telling services and begging for money, have also been banned.”
Truong Minh Quy, a visitor from Hanoi, noted that besides quan ho folk songs, the performers also sang modern pop songs and even revolutionary songs.
“The audience still gives donations to the performers despite the ban by local authorities,” he said.
Painter Do Dung has been a regular performer at the festival.
Although he was born in the area, he lives and works in Hanoi. Dung has joined various quan hosinging events in dozens of villages in the northern province of Bac Ninh.
He has learnt by heart hundreds of song verses and can sing duets with the most experienced performers in the area.
Dung confessed that he has special feelings towards the Lim Village festival, which gathers the most talented performers.
“Love duet singing inspires me due to its simplicity and honesty in depicting true love. It’s not colourful or modified like other festivals,” he said.
“I’m afraid of singing at events that require a quick pace,” he said.
“Performers sit for only a short while before they are rushed outside to challenge others to a singing stand-off.”
Dung admitted that his character is quite suited to singing love duets on the sincere emotions exchanged between people. He has painted many paintings featuring the quan ho festival.
For the past few years, people living in Ho Chi Minh City have popularised love duets songs, which are performed by artists from various clubs across the city.
Composer Quy Thang initiated the city’s first quan ho club.
Thang was born in Bac Ninh Province and had been a famed quan ho performer in his home village.
In 1984, he settled down in Ho Chi Minh City to work as an event organiser.
“I realised that many people living here enjoy quan ho, but very few people can sing,” he said.
He later met many people from Bac Ninh who could sing the songs and decided to set up the first club, calling it Muoi Nho,in Tan Binh District in May 1998, with 10 initial members.
“I remember our first show,” he said. “Our members sang many songs, and the show attracted a large audience.”
After a few months, people from other districts asked him to set up other clubs in their districts. This led to the formation of the Quan Ho Truc Xinh, Con Duyen and Duyen Quan Ho clubs.
“The beauty of love duets melodies has attracted many people,” Thang said.
“My club doesn’t only gather people from Bac Ninh but also people from all over the country, such as Nghe An, Hue and southwestern provinces. They come from all walks of life, from workers, housewives and doctors to university lecturers and even noted singers.”
Apart from Ho Chi Minh City, Thang has helped set up clubs in different localities including Binh Duong, Vung Tau, and Dong Nai.
“Quan ho clubs across the south maintain regular activities and perform at festivals and even on television shows. They have turned out to be spiritual food for the southern people.”
Thang said during the Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival, quan ho clubs offered continuous shows.
He plans to open a fixed stage for a club in a central downtown area.
“The stage will offer nightly shows,” he said. “I plan to open it by the middle of this year. Hopefully, it will attract not only the Saigonese but also domestic and foreign tourists.
“Quan ho has been listed on UNESCO’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. It should be nurtured better, so it can develop further,” he said.