Young performers’ exchange motivates gong culture preservation

VOV.VN - On a spring day in 2021, a male team of bamboo gong performers from Kmrong Prong A hamlet met their female peers from Kbu hamlet in the Central Highlands city of Buon Ma Thuot.

They exchanged experiences about performin the bamboo gong, also known as Ching kram, a traditional musical instrument of the Ede ethnic group in the Central Highlands.

Opening the exchange, the Kmrong Prong A team played a music piece called “Receiving guests” in an upbeat rhythm, inviting the guests to join their performance. Y Bay Kbuor, head of the hamlet, said this group has the youngest members among the hamlet’s 3 gong teams. The team members, aged between 12 to 15, are very excited to discuss performing with the guest team from Kbu hamlet. 

"This team was established last year and trained under a teaching program of Buon Ma Thuot City’s Culture Division. This is the first time they had an exchange with a team of Kbu hamlet," said Kbuor.

"We’re glad to see that they are proud and excited to play, and enjoy different pieces of gong. We hope for more opportunities to talk to them about going performing, and learn from their peers from other localities." 

Responding to the performance of the hosts, team Kbu played another piece of gong with a fast and cheerful rhythm that is often played during the new rice and water rituals, and wedding ceremonies.

Established last summer, the Kbu team have been practiced tirelessly. H Uet Nie said her team spent 2 months to learn this piece of gong and practiced it regularly every week. 

"We had opportunities to play gongs at performances of our hamlet on National Great Unity Day and other celebrations at communal level. We practice regularly every Saturday and Sunday," said H Uet Nie.

"This is the first time Kbu hamlet’s female gong team joined an exchange with teams from other localities. I hope we’ll have more opportunities like this so we can learn more about gong and different performing skills."

After the solo performances, both teams sat opposite each other and jointly performed a piece of gong on offering wine. It’s rare for Ede ethnic people to have a gong team with female members at such a young age. It’s also unprecedented for them to organize exchanges between young gong troupes of different hamlets. 

Y Blang Kbuor of Kbu hamlet said this exchange is very interesting, adding that the two teams got on really well in their joint performances, although they had not practiced with each other before. 

"I think the two teams played really well together. We had exchanges of gong performances in the past but only between senior performers at specific events like big festivals, ceremonies to pray for health, or celebrate new homes. We have not seen an exchange between two gong teams of young members from different localities like this," he said.

The exchange is seen as a strong motivation in efforts to preserve and promote the gong culture in Buon Ma Thuot City. Pham Thi Hai Binh, Deputy Director of the city’s Culture, Sports, and Tourism Center, said the agency will organize a gong festival at the municipal level for all teams with young members to meet, perform, and share their experiences. 

"This is an unprecedented event in our gong cultural activities, contributing to bringing gong culture to a wider public. We’re planning to organize the first ever gong festival for the local gong teams with young members this April. The festival is scheduled to take place every two years in the future. Our idea has been strongly supported by the municipal People’s Committee," she said. 

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