Trumpet village keeps fires burning

Located more than 100 kilometres south of Hanoi, the Pham Phao Catholic village in Nam Dinh province’s Hai Hau district has a long history of traditional bronze casting. Local craftsmen kept the passion burning by creating unique bronze trumpets, which came to play a significant role in the spiritual lives of local Catholics.

The village used to have more than 800 amateur musicians performing regularly at church services and village events. With a lifelong passion, the musicians made and repaired bronze musical instruments, which became a traditional craft passed down through generations.

Nguyen Van Cuong, a military musician in the 1970s, learned how to repair and play the trumpet from his father, Nguyen Van Bien. Cuong is now the most famous tuner in Pham Phao village.

There is no advanced machinery in the village’s trumpet-making workshops. All processes are done by hand, from design, billet cutting and bronze heating to welding and metal plating.

Though Pham Phao trumpets are not as showy as imported instruments, they are still popular among an increasing number of customers nationwide thanks to their good sound quality and reasonable prices.

With the craftsmen’s meticulous attention to detail and with good sound quality, Pham Phao’s bronze trumpets have found favour among music lovers of all stripes. Along with contemporary jazz events, Pham Phao’s trumpets are also heard at many classical music concerts.

The bronze trumpets have also become a key part of Catholic rituals, especially at Christmas. And for the trumpet craftsmen of Pham Phao village, no matter how life changes, their traditional profession will never fade away./.