An international workshop on Vietnam’s Bai choi singing and similar arts in the world opened in Quy Nhon city, the central province of Binh Dinh on January 13, attracting the participation of more than 100 domestic and foreign researchers and artists.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vice Secretary of the provincial Party Committee and Chairman of the People’s Committee Ho Quoc Dung hailed the significance of the event as it will help complete a dossier seeking UNESCO recognition of Bai choi singing as an intangible cultural heritage in 2016.

Nguyen Binh Dinh, Director of the Vietnam National Academy of Music, stated that twenty-two reports on the folk singing and world similar arts are going to be presented by cultural researchers from France, Germany, Sweden, Laos, the Republic of Korea and and, during the two-day workshop.

The event aims to introduce the history and culture of the central coastal localities from Quang Binh to Khanh Hoa, the performance art and music, as well as measures to preserve and promote the values of Bai Choi singing.

Unique to the central coastal region, Bai choi is often seen at local spring festivals and resembles a game, using playing cards and village huts.

The stage for Bai choi performances encompasses nine cottages, each containing five or six ‘players’. One of the cottages, the central house, contains a troupe of musicians and instruments. A deck of playing cards is split in half, with one stack distributed amongst the players, and the other placed in the central house. The cards are stuck onto bamboo poles and erected outside the cottages.

The game singer delivers a flag to each cottage, all the while singing Bai choi, and then draws a card from the central house. Whoever holds the card closest in value to the game singer’s card wins.

The Bai choi songs are about festivals, daily life and work, and are accompanied by musical instruments.

The game and songs were developed by Mandarin Dao Duy Tu (1572-1634) to help locals protect their crops.-VNA