Artist devotes life to preserve traditional music

For over 60 years, Pham Thuy Hoan has performed with her zither in many countries in the world. She has also contributed significantly to lecturing and introducing the Vietnamese zither to national and international audiences.

With her passion and love for the traditional music instrument, called dan tranh in Vietnamese, Thuy Hoan and her friend Van Anh, a dan bau (Vietnamese monochord zither) artist, created the first playground for dan tranh players in Ho Chi Minh City by organizing show at the wax statue museum of Vietnamese celebrities in late December 2017. The performance was the desire of the artist from Nam Dinh province to promote the traditional musical instrument nationally and internationally.

Pham Thuy Hoan devotes her life to promote the traditional musical instrument domestically and internationally.
Photo: Son Nghia

The artist’s talented hands on her zither. Photo: Kim Phuong

TạArtist Thuy Hoan introduces a playground for dan tranh lovers in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Kim Phuong

She has contributed to introducing the Vietnamese zither
to national and international audiences. Photo: Kim Phuong

Members of Tieng Hat Que Huong club play dan tranh by the wax statue of late Professor Tran Van Khe,
who was once the advisor of the club. Photo: Kim Phuong

She performs at a cultural event. Photo: Files

A symphony of folk music instruments performed by Tieng Hat Que Huong club members in Ho Chi Minh City.
Photo: Son Nghia

The artist with her zithers. Photo: Son Nghia

During the 90 minute-show, 30 zither players of all ages performed solo and in duets. Facilitated by artists Thuy Hoan, Van Anh and Hai Phuong, the show impressed the audience with the harmonious combination of folk music instruments such as dan tranh, dan bau, dan tu (four-string zither) and phach (small wooden sticks beaten on a small bamboo platform) to perform traditional and current music pieces such as Hon que (soul of the countryside), Long Ho Hoi (dragon and tiger festival) and Come Back to Sorrento.

Thuy Hoan’s daughter, Hai Phuong, was also a famous zither player since she learnt to play the instrument at the age of five. Hai Phuong shared her mother’s wish to popularize the art for more local and foreign audiences. Hai Phuong’s daughter, Hai Minh has also been playing the zither since she was little. Now Minh is an active member of Tieng Hat Que Huong (Homeland Song) Club in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tieng Hat Que Huong club has about 50 members of different ages. Photo: Kim Phuong

Besides dan tranh, she also trains in other folk musical instruments. Photo: Son Nghia

The teacher gives careful instructions to her students. Photo: Son Nghia

A folk music class of Thuy Hoan in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Son Nghia

One of her bamboo flute playing classes. Photo: Son Nghia

As founder and head of Tieng Hat Que Huong (Homeland Song) Club which was established in 1981 to teach and promote traditional music, Pham Thuy Hoan has written 15 books about dan tranh. She was given the title Eminent Teacher in 1994 and a medal for education in 1995.

“My mother is also my teacher. I have learnt so much about life and my career from her. She wholeheartedly contributed to the traditional music. Therefore, my mother studies music as well as thinking about how to encourage people to learn traditional music. I hope she has good health to continue her plans.” Hai Phuong said about her mother.

Story: Son Nghia – Photos: Son Ngghia, Kim Phuong & Files