Son established the Centre for Preservation and Development of Quang Ngai’s Bai Choi Folk Singing in 2013, with its headquarter located in his own house. The centre now has 20 coordinators who are working in different professions, as teachers, soldiers and traders. None of them, including the director, receive salary but they simply join the centre for their common passion for Bai Choi, a popular folklore style of singing in central Vietnam.
One of the most active members of the centre is Major Le Anh Quoc from the Minh Long district’s Military Command. Quoc first registered for joining Son’s training course on Bai Choi singing in 2011 and was approved by his commanders. He then became an enthusiastic member of the class and was sent to perform at amateur arts contests in the province as well as competitions held among Military Zone 5’s armed forces.
In addition to developing his passion for singing Bai Choi melodies, Quoc has also composed scripts and adapted them into Bai Choi stage. Several his plays and songs have won prizes at armed forces’ amateur folk singing contests.
Quoc’s artistic talent has been further promoted since 2016 when the Quang Ngai provincial High Command established the Armed Forces’ Club for Lullabies and Folk Singing. Joining as a performer, singer, script writer and stage director for the club’s performances, Quoc’s love for Bai Choi has fuelled other club’s members. Resultantly, more than half of the club’s members have become active coordinators of the Centre for Preservation and Development of Quang Ngai’s Bai Choi Folk Singing.
Although army life is very busy, we try to arrange our time and schedule to not miss any performance held by the club and the centre, during which we can serve the people with Bai Choi singing, Quoc said.
Bai Choi singing was recognised by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December of last year, however, the art form has not yet drawn much interest from the audiences.
Therefore, the Centre for Preservation and Development of Quang Ngai’s Bai Choi Folk Singing has focused its operation on popularising the art form among the locals through short programmes, which last from 15 to 30 minutes each, at schools, hospitals, and other public spaces.
The centre-hosted programmes deliver a range of popular content, including new rural development, traffic safety, and President Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, morals and style.
Recently, the centre won the special prize at the Professional Theatrical Arts, Bai Choi Folk Singing and Opera 2018, held in Quang Ngai last October, for their play ‘Nui Rung Nam Ay’, which praised the Vietnamese people and army’s resistance war against the US towards national salvation.
Director of Quang Ngai provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Minh Tri said that Son’s centre has provided a lot of support for the department in organising key cultural events, particularly those on Bai Choi singing.
According to Dang Ngoc Dung, Vice Chairman of Quang Ngai provincial People’s Committee, the local authorities have always appreciated and encouraged the participation of private arts units and clubs in preserving the locality’s culture.
With proper care from sectors and the enthusiastic passion from Bai Choi performers and practitioners in Quang Ngai, it is believed that the art form will reach a broader range of audience, deserving of the UNESCO honour as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.