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Virtual Encounters: The Music of Vietnam – Roots and Resilience

Sunday, February 7 @ 2:00 pm - 2:50 pm PST

- Free
Picture of Van-Anh Vo with Vietnamese zither.

This presentation is the third of six programs in the Center for World Music’s Spring 2021 Virtual Encounters with World Music and Dance series. This program is a celebration leading up to Tết Nguyên Đán (Lunar New Year) 2021. The Music of Vietnam: Roots and Resilience is co-presented by the Center for World Music and the Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization (VANGO) Network.

Roots and Resilience: A Musical Conversation

Featuring Vân-Ánh Võ with Ethnomusicologist Alexander M. Cannon
February 7, 2:00 PM

In traditional music, one finds the essence of the strength and resilience of the Vietnamese diaspora. Folksongs connect people in recollection, and new works inspire audiences to share their stories. In this event, composer and multi-instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Võ reflects on her innovative take on traditional Vietnamese music. She presents a daring work for đàn bầu, a single-stringed Vietnamese instrument, and voice that takes inspiration from poetry by eighteen-century poet Hồ Xuân Hương. With her Blood Moon Orchestra, she offers a collaborative work for đàn tranh zither, taiko drum, and oud lute on the resilience possible in the pandemic. In conversation with ethnomusicologist Alexander M. Cannon, they explore the roots and power of the Vietnamese musical tradition and discuss new work for her MEKONG project. With something for all listeners, this concert offers hope for 2021!

Vân-Ánh Võ will address questions from the audience throughout the program, as well as during the Q&A. 

Registration is free at Eventbrite. The confirmation email will include a link to the live stream. If you would like to show support for Vân-Ánh Võ, donations are welcome.

Download the Program Notes.

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About Vân-Ánh Võ

A fearless musical explorer, Vân-Ánh Võ is an award-winning performer of the 16-string đàn tranh (zither) and an Emmy Award-winning composer. She has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and Yo-Yo Ma. In addition to her mastery of the đàn tranh, she also uses the monochord (đàn bầu), bamboo xylophone (đàn t’rung), traditional drums (trống) and many other instruments. As a result, Vân-Ánh Võ creates music that blends the wonderfully unique sounds of Vietnamese instruments with other genres. She fuses deeply rooted Vietnamese musical traditions with fresh new structures and compositions.

Born into a family of musicians and beginning her study of đàn tranh (16-string zither) from the age of four, Vân-Ánh graduated with distinction from the Vietnamese Academy of Music, where she later taught. In 1995, Vân-Ánh won the championship title in the Vietnam National Đàn Tranh Competition, along with the first prize for “best solo performance” of modern folk music. In Hanoi, Vân-Ánh was an ensemble member of the Vietnam National Music Theatre as well as a member of the traditional music group Đồng Nội Ensemble, which she founded and directed. She has since performed in more than fourteen countries and recorded many broadcast programs in Vietnam and beyond.

See Vân-Ánh Võ’s full biography on her website.

About Alexander Cannon

Dr. Alexander M. Cannon is a Lecturer in Music at the University of Birmingham (UK), where he teaches classes in ethnomusicology, critical musicology, and the traditional musics of Asia. He holds an MA and Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan and a BA in music and economics from Pomona College. He is published in the journals EthnomusicologyEthnomusicology ForumAsian Music, and the Journal of Vietnamese Studies. He has a book forthcoming on the southern Vietnamese genre đờn ca tài tử (music for diversion).


About Organizers and Community Partners

VANGO Network is a nonprofit organization with the mission to lead effective collaborations and strengthen the humanitarian, cultural, and development work by delivering capacity-building workshops to underserved communities.  Collaboration is at the heart of what we do to address health disparities, education inequalities, and social and economic injustices, and promote cultural awareness.  VANGO Network believes that arts are innovative and communicative tools for diversity and artists provide a creative platform to elevate voices and stories of the immigrants, refugees, and oppressed groups to be heard locally and globally. For more info about VANGO, please visit https://www.va-ngo.org or follow on Facebook (@VANGONetwork).

DVAN believes that the stories, imaginaries, and poetics of a thriving Vietnamese diaspora can unite our global community. Their mission is to celebrate and foster diasporic Vietnamese voices. DVAN presents nonfiction, fiction, and poetry to empower Vietnamese artists in the diaspora and to promote understanding and dialogue within our community, and with others. Their complex and diverse stories must be championed and passed on to current and future generations. DVAN are refugees, immigrants, survivors, and descendants, and our stories must be heard. For more information about the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN) please visit our website at https://dvan.org or follow us on Instagram (@weare_dvan).


Community Co-Sponsors

VANGO Network Logo        DVAN logo


Concert Series Sponsor

Rice and Haeling Development Group Logo


Grant Support

California Humanities Logo

This project is made possible with support from the California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

This project is partially funded by the California Arts Council’s Artists in Communities program, awarded to the Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization (VANGO) Network.

City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture

Financial support is provided by the City of San Diego, Commission for Arts and Culture.


Online Event


Center for World Music
Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization (VANGO) Network


Online Event


Center for World Music
Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization (VANGO) Network