Vietnamese artist spreads Vi and Giam folk songs around the world

Young artist Le Thanh Phong always takes advantage of every opportunity to tour abroad to promote the value of the nation's heritage to other countries.

Recently, Le Thanh Phong and his colleagues performed a special art program within the framework of the Vietnam Day in France 2023.

In this program, he performed the Vi and Giam Nghe Tinh folk song suite with the melodies: Vi do dua song Lam, Tu Hoa and Vi gian thuong, music genre that he has researched and performed for a long time.

Sentimental Vi-Giam folk songs

Mr. Phong said: “Vi, Giam is a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. I am a Nghe An native and well known to the audience for singing Vi and Giam, so I desire to spread this art form more widely”.

Chàng nghệ sĩ Việt lan tỏa làn điệu dân ca Ví, Giặm ra thế giới
Artist Le Thanh Phong performed Vi and Giam folk songs in France. (Photo: VNA)

Along with the joyful musical performances and the spirited lions, Mr. Phong’s Vi and Giam performance brought the audience a different level of emotions.

The auditorium seemed to calm down, suppressing their emotions as they listened to the young male artist singing love songs. After singing, Mr. Phong shared his feelings with the audience sincerely.

He expressed: “When coming to France, I remember the story of how Uncle Ho in Paris fought against the frosty winter with a red brick. He still remembered her grandmother’s Vi and Giam and also her mother’s old lullabies that warmed his heart when being away from home. More than 100 years later, singing Vi and Giam in frigid Paris, a Nghe An native like me feels like Uncle Ho still lives on here”.

He said he was very touched since there were many audience members who came to shake his hands and hug him tightly after the performance.

Ms. Vuong Lan (PhD student in France) heard that Thanh Phong was coming to perform, so despite the distance, she managed her time, taking several trains to listen and watch his performance.

In the performance, there was an elderly audience member named Vinh carrying a quite large camcorder to record the show. He told Thanh Phong that in France he heard many Vietnamese folk songs and memorized them well: “While listening to your Tu Hoa singing, I fret with obsessive memories of the past and I still listen to you sing Vi, Giam frequently”.

Mr. Phong recalled that after the performance, when being taken to a Vietnamese restaurant in District 13 for dinner by the organizers, as soon as he entered, the restaurant owner recognized him and called out: “Husband! Son! Artist Thanh Phong is here, in our restaurant!” and ran up to, embracing him.

She told Mr. Phong: “I listen to you on Youtube everyday in order not to miss my hometown too much. It’s been 5 years and I haven’t been able to go back to my hometown, hearing you sing makes me feel less sad”.

Responding to her feelings, Mr. Phong sang a Vi-Giam song titled Mot long anh doi. He fondly remembered: “It’s cold and rainy outside in Paris, but the people’s love in here is so warm”.

Proud to promote cultural diplomacy

Mr. Phong is currently Head of the UNESCO Nghe An Folk Song Delegation in Hanoi, and editor of the VOV3 Folk and Tradition Music program - Voice of Vietnam (VOV).

He was awarded the Outstanding Actor award at the 2017 World Folklore Festival in Uzbekitstan, the Folk Music Festival Certificate of Merit from Yunnan International Channel (China) in 2019, and the Certificates of Merit “For the work of preserving and promoting national cultural heritage” by the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Not only singing Vi, Giam, during the recent Vietnam Day in France 2023, Mr. Phong also supported other colleagues in performances of ao dai and ethnic traditional instruments.

In particular, knowing that Mr. Phong was working as an editor and host of the Folk and Traditional Music Program of the VOV, the organizers proposed him for hosting the opening art program with a French MC.

The assigned task was quite unexpected, making Thanh Phong nervous, but he quickly regained confidence and fulfilled it smoothly and impressively.

Chàng nghệ sĩ Việt lan tỏa làn điệu dân ca Ví, Giặm ra thế giới
Le Thanh Phong as the presenter of the program in France. (Photo: VNA)

Mr. Phong said that he has had various opportunities to perform in cultural exchange art programs, promoting Vietnam’s image abroad, such as China, the Republic of Korea, Cambodia, and Uzbekistan. For him, every performance is special and he always tells himself to try to do his best.

“Every time I have the opportunity to tour abroad, I get to experience a new culture, bring the national heritage values to another land, to promote Vietnam and its people. These trips make me more proud to be a Vietnamese citizen, born and raised in a country rich in identity. I feel I need to live more responsibly towards the country and national art”.

Vietnam Day in France 2023 was jointly organized by Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnamese Cultural Center in France, and the Vietnamese Embassy in France to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic ties (1973-2023) and 10 years of the strategic partnership between the two countries (2013-2023).

With the theme “Shared Culture”, the program introduced a rich and diverse space of ethnic culture, art and cuisine. Accordingly, the guests were impressed with a beautiful, peaceful, hospitable, dynamically developing, and rich in cultural traditions country, helping Vietnam get closer to the French community.

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Translated by Phuong Linh