Hat Xoan wins new international admirers

Documents referring to Hat xoan must be submitted to the UNESCO prior to March 31 2010 for it to be considered for recognition by the world cultural heritage in 2011. However, it took until mid-January, the first international workshop on Hat Xoan to be held in Viet Tri city, Phu Tho province, the home of Hat xoan.

For many Vietnamese and foreign researchers, the “Hat xoan Phu Tho” performance o­n January 15 at Lau Thuong temple in Viet Tri City was the first live show of Hat Xoan that they had ever seen.

After the first “live show,” foreign researchers praised the event and the art form.

Indonesian researcher Triyono Bramantyo praised Hat Xoan as unique, special, authentic, and with polished lyrics transmitted orally from generation to generation, showing the people’s aspirations combined in harmony with dance.

Chinese researcher Xiao Mei from the Shanghai Musical Institute was impressed with the use of bamboo-made musical instruments.

Korean expert Sheen Dae-Cheol was very interested in Hat Xoan’s “hat dum” and “mo ca” for their high artistic value and symbolism.

Naturally, foreign scholars compared Hat Xoan with the folk songs of their countries. They pointed out similarities between Hat Xoan and songs from other cultures.

Vietnamese researchers also highlighted the cultural and historical values of Hat Xoan. Researcher Nguyen Khac Xuong emphasized the difference between Hat xoan and other kinds of folk songs in the north.

Composer Dang Hoanh Loan, after a trip to 18 villages, said that we should not call Hat Xoan “Hat cua dinh” (singing at communal house) because Hat xoan is to worship Hung Kings o­nly.

Highly appreciating the values of Hat Xoan, scholars wondered how to preserve it. Thai researcher Bussakorn Binson wondered why not many Phu Tho people can sing Hat Xoan.

She said that Vietnam can’t preserve Hat Xoan when the people in the home of this art cannot sing it. She suggested teaching young people in Phu Tho.She said musical teachers should sing Hat Xoan and then teach it at schools.

Korean researcher Sheen Dae-Cheol suggested Phu Tho province try to spread Hat Xoan in the local community to build up their pride in cultural heritage among local people and urge them to preserve the art.

French professor Yves Defrance encouraged young Hat Xoan artisans to create new songs which are connected to modern life, while respecting Hat Xoan rituals.

Dr. Panikos Giorgoudes from Cyprus emphasized the need to develop an o­nline database for Hat Xoan and other kinds of traditional music. He believed this is the shortest way to bring Vietnamese traditional music to the world.