A xẩm band from Ninh Bình Province performs at the press conference on Thursday to announce the festival. — VNS Photo Quang Anh

HÀ NỘI — Artists from across the country aged 7-70 will perform at the xẩm (blind wanderers’ music) festival from December 3-5 in the northern province of Ninh Bình.

Fifteen clubs had registered to take part, according to Nguyễn Mạnh Cường, director of the Ninh Bình Province Department of Culture and Sports.

The festival is designed to preserve and promote the art of singing and introduce the country’s traditional heritage to international visitors, he said at a press conference on Thursday in Hà Nội.

“We host the festival because Ninh Bình is considered the cradle of the xẩm singing, the hometown of Meritorious Artist Hà Thị Cầu (1917-2013), the so-called ‘last humane treasure of xẩm’ and the most famous artisan of this genre,” he said.

“Xẩm clubs and training classes have been opened for people who are interested in the art, including children and elders.”

After the festival, cultural departments in Ninh Bình and other northern provinces will send an application to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for recognition of xẩm as a national intangible heritage. It’s the first step to nominate xẩm as an UNESCO heritage.

Each club will present three pieces, each 15 minutes long. The pieces include both traditional tunes and songs with new lyrics.

“The content of the songs is varied, showing the creativity and professionalism of modern artists,” said musician Thao Giang, head of the jury board.

“The songs reflect patriotism and urgent issues in society such as traffic accidents, sovereignty and maritime territory.”

Artist Nguyễn Linh, 28, from Ninh Bình Province, said the artists were eager for the festival as they considered it a chance to exchange with each other and promote the traditional art form.

“I have practised and performed xẩm for more than 10 years. We want to preserve xẩm and introduce the art to more people,” he said.

Apart from competitions, a seminar will be held in the framework of the festival with the participation of experts, cultural authorities and xẩm artists. They will discuss how to promote the art form to the world and popularise it among the next generation.

Representatives of the clubs and the organising board will visit late artisan Cầu’s house in Yên Mô District, Ninh Bình Province.

Xẩm is a centuries-old singing style of the Vietnamese people. It was popular in the northern region and has long been recognised as an important part of national cultural heritage. A xẩm band includes a singer and two to four instrumentalists.

Xẩm Hà Thành Group with musician Nguyễn Quang Long, singer Mai Tuyết Hoa and other instrumentalists perform at Lý Thái Tổ Garden by Hoàn Kiếm (Returned Sword) Lake on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. — VNS