On Friday, January 22 and Saturday, January 23, 2016, Emmy®Award-winning composer Vân-Ánh Võ will present the World Premiere an expansive new musical epic inspired by the experiences of the Vietnamese Boat People. The Odyssey–from Vietnam to America reflects upon the resilience of the human spirit and the price of freedom.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, The Odyssey explores the personal and spiritual journeys of the Boat People escaping war and abandoning their lives in the search for freedom while facing an alien and unknowable future. The Odyssey utilizes new music for Vietnamese and Western instruments, ambient sound, spoken word, historical objects and live media.
Vân-Ánh Võ is a performer of Vietnamese traditional instruments and an emerging composer. She creates music by blending the unique sounds of Vietnamese instruments with other music genres. As Vietnam National Champion on traditional instruments, she has been a collaborator with the Kronos Quartet, Houston Grand Opera, and other artists in jazz, rap and world music realms.
The performance features four musicians from the Vân-Ánh Võ (The VA’V) Quartet including Alex Kelly on cello, Jimi Nakagawa on taiko and percussions, Dan Cantrell on accordion and piano. Guest artists will include award-winning environmental sound artist and ethnomusicologist Philip Blackburn, who has published articles on Vietnamese music, and award-winning video and media artist Ian Winters, who creates multiple layers of stories in the production.
“I want to present The Odyssey–from Vietnam to America because I want to show the unimaginable suffering, unflagging will to survive, and the unwavering determination to succeed of the Vietnamese Boat People, and to deliver the message of peace and unity,” says Võ.
“The war created a deep division; yet all suffered pain, loss and separation. I want to use my art to show that war is painful, war kills and destroys, and war should be avoided.”
“For this production, I want to use the heart-wrenching and triumphant stories of Vietnamese Boat People as inspirations for my music. I want the audience to experience the odyssey and triumph of the Boat People, feel the universal emotions of their own life challenges, and relate to their own struggles and sacrifices.”
The Odyssey will contain several movements with many songs. Vietnamese folk songs, particularly the lullabies, are an important part of the raw musical materials. With 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, the lullabies, although in different dialects, all share the same common themes of providing comfort to children, giving encouragement to the men who had enlisted to fight in wars, and longing for loved ones. These lullabies are used to evoke the deepest sense of comfort, calm and strength that the Vietnamese Boat People desperately needed, to overcome the insurmountable psychological and emotional challenges during their odyssey.
Ticket Information: Regular admission: $20-30; student, teacher, senior: $15-25; YBCA Members: $15 YBCA:You Free
Additional discount and group rates are available through the YBCA Box Office: 415.978.2787. YBCA Forum, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94103; www.ybca.org
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