Nguyen Huu Manh, Head of the Lim Festival Organizing Board on February 24 said that the festival aims to preserve and revive the valuable, ancient art of love duet singing, or “Quan Ho”, which has been recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.
The festival was held on Lim Hill where the Lim Pagoda is located. The pagoda is dedicated to Hieu Trung Hau, who invented Quan Ho.
The festival itinerary included the love duet singing ritual with ancient melodies which have content praising the merit of gods and Buddha. There was also a love duet singing festival with performances of love duet songs exchanged by “lien anh” (brothers) and “lien chi” (sisters), who are ordinary people hailing from different villages.
The love duets are an art form that combines various elements, including music, lyrics, costume, and a unique style of singing that reflects the close relationship between the singers. The rich and diverse tunes and fine lyrics of the songs portray the zest for life and distinctive cultural features of people in the region formerly called Kinh Bac.
After Quan Ho was recognized by UNESCO in September 2009, a strategy was adopted detailing a series of measures to be taken from 2009 through 2015 to preserve this art form.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Music Academy, and the departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces have joined hands in assisting the local communities to systematically compile lists of love duet songs, ancient and contemporary, as well as love duet singers, musicians and composers.
Lim Hill, where Quan Ho is performed during the annually festival, will be developed into a Quan Ho Cultural Centre with an area reserved for performances.
State agencies have also set out to help local Quan Ho singers establish their association and restore the worship songs which were once used at the Viem Xa Village festival.
Apart from the State’s efforts, local people are encouraged to get involved in preserving Quan Ho.
“No one can preserve the arts as well as their creators. Let the people take on the stewardship of their own culture,” Prof. Dr. Ngo Duc Thinh, Vice Chairman of the Asian Folk Culture Association and member of Vietnam’s National Heritage Council, emphasized.