The Music Story of the Old Quarter has been performed monthly by Dong Kinh Co Nhac (Ancient Music Group of Tonkin) since May, 2015, at the Centre of the Old Quarter’s Culture Exchange in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district. Without any music amplifiers, the artists sings, accompanied by silk-stringed instruments, the unique songs of Vietnamese folk music.
“Our group includes senior artists of Vietnam’s folk music. We join together to revive our traditional music and promote it in the modern context.”, said artisan Dam Quang Minh, the group’s founder.
Since its debut, the Music Story of the Old Quarter show has offered audiences the delicacy of traditional sounds through performances of various traditional art forms including cheo (traditional opera), tuong (classical opera), ca tru (ceremonial singing), and poem reciting.
The group has experimented with blending traditional and modern music at many concerts at home and abroad. The group’s performances feature folk songs of the former imperial city of Hue using lyrics written by the late Trinh Cong Son.
Among their shows are “Lullabies – Green Bamboo “, a night of Vietnamese traditional music with contemporary poetry by Nguyen Duy, an important author of modern Vietnamese literature, and programs spotlighting the German poems of Jan Wagner and Heinrich Heiner, like “The Rain Barrel Show” and “Lyrical Intermezzeo”.
Late last year, the group collaborated with the Hanoi New Music Ensemble to perform a concert entitled “Mirror of Memory” at the Vietnam National Academy of Music Concert Hall under the baton of German conductor Jeff Von Der Schmidt. The concert, which featured performances of old music called “The village’s sound”, “Ca Tru”, and “Kim”, was a blend of Vietnamese traditional music and contemporary music arranged in both Vietnamese and western styles.
“We’ll conduct further research on traditional music, especially on ancient recordings and writings, in order to compile a theoretical system of Vietnamese folk music. This will require a lot of effort in the long run. We also plan to organize more performances, share experience and educate the younger generations about the beauty of Vietnam’s traditional musical instruments and pure singing voices.”, said Vu Nhat Tan, a member of the Ancient Music Group of Tonkin.
The Ancient Music Group of Tonkin’s efforts to combine traditional and modern music have brought western music and poetry to Vietnamese audiences while promoting the national folk music treasure.