In 2009, Ca tru was inscribed in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding.
There are now 14 Ca tru clubs in Hanoi whose members include 50 teachers and 220 performers.
The clubs are able to operate thanks to donations from Ca tru fans.
Do Thi Hao, Chairwoman of the Hanoi Folklore Literature and Arts Association, said, “Many Ca tru clubs have been established, but because they are mainly amateurs who volunteer their time, they lack any formal structure or program.”
Ca tru fans aren’t turning their backs on Ca tru music even though their clubs have no permanent place to perform.
Vu Thi Thuy Linh, a member of the Phu Thi Ca tru Club, said club members used to practice singing at the home of one of the club’s founders.
“We practice at my house every week. When Ms. Chuc was alive, we used to gather at her house to practice and also learn from her experience and wisdom. Now we teach each other. Sometimes we visit another founder of our club, Mr. Nguyen Phu De, old, often sick, and lives in Hai Duong province.”
Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh Ly, Director of the Center for Cultural Heritage Research and Promotion, talked to us about training young Ca tru artists.
“The most urgent task is to hand down Ca tru singing to a new generation, who are younger, more dynamic, and passionate about protecting this folk music. Beyond that, we need to make the community aware that Ca tru is a valuable heritage representing the community and train people to be Ca tru fans,” she said.
Preservation Ca tru is a challenge because the masters are aging or already dead and their successors are few.
Beyond training a new generation of Ca tru performers, it’s necessary to make Ca tru accessible to the wider public.
Ca tru classes have been introduced as extracurricular activities in Lien Ha and adjacent communes in Dong Anh district, the cradle of Lo Khe Ca tru.
Phung Thi Hong, Head of the Ca tru Club at the Center for Vietnam Music Art Development, said, “If Ca tru is taught at school, the young people will be introduced to it earlier. I hope that the relevant agencies will do whatever is needed to keep Ca tru alive.”
Hanoi’s Ca tru clubs have added 18 new tunes to the traditional repertoire of 30 tunes to appeal to a larger audience. A recent Ca tru Young Talent Festival attracted 36 participants between the ages of 6 and 30.