The Bac Lieu People’s Committee recently asked for VND55 billion (US$2.61 million) to renovate and expand the building dedicated to veteran cai luong (southern folk music and stage performance) composer Cao Van Lau (1892-1976).
The building, located at Bac Lieu City’s ward 2, is to be expanded from around 2,000 m2 now to 12,000 m2. The new site will include an exhibition area, which provides details of the composer’s biography and artistic career along with those of several other artists which later developed Lau’s hallmark “cai luong” piece “Da co hoai lang” (Missing my husband at nightfall).
The exhibition area will also present many precious documents, performing costumes, and musical instruments used by famed “cai luong” artists and boast a waxen model of “don ca tai tu” (another genre of southern folk music, which is closely related to “cai luong”).
A symbolized “dan kiem” (double-stringed lute) will also be erected, and upgrade will also be made to the road leading to the commemorative building and the stages within the site which regularly host “cai luong” and “don ca tai tu” performances.
The total investment is estimated at some VND80 billion, drawn from both the central and local governments’ budgets.
The expansion and revamp is also intended to get ready for the “don ca tai tu” festival expected to be held in the province next year.
The commemorative building is originally the 3ha lot owned by the late composer’s family, which also houses his, his parents and wife’s tombs. In 1997, this site was recognized as a provincial historical relic site by the provincial People’s Committee and has been open to visitors since 2009 on the 90th anniversary of the song “Da co hoai lang”, which Lau composed in 1919.
The masterpiece has a significant influence on the local folk music scene and is associated with the birth and development of “cai luong”. Lau’s family some years ago proposed that the piece be recognized as an intangible cultural heritage.