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VAN-ANH VO IS AN AWARD-WINNING MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST SPECIALIZING IN VIETNAMESE TRADITIONAL MUSIC.


Van-Anh Vanessa Vo devoted her life-long passion and mastery of the dan tranh zither to the creation of distinctive music blended with a cultural essence that can only come from this unique Vietnamese instrument. Among her accomplishments are the 2009 Emmy® Award-winning soundtrack for the documentary “Bolinao 52”, which she co-composed and recorded, and the soundtrack for the Sundance best documentary and 2003 Academy Awards® nominee “Daughter from Danang”. Van-Anh also co-composed and recorded for the recent documentary “A Village Called Versailles”, winner of the New Orleans Film Festival Audience Award.

          Vo's "Three Mountain Pass," which includes her music and traditional Vietnamese pieces played on a number of Vietnamese instruments interestingly begs the question of what is American music, especially since a knockout on the disc is her transcription of French composer Erik Satie's "Gnossienne No. 3." - Mark Swed; Los Angeles Times 

          It’s gorgeous and sentimental. I loved the way she stretched that note [on dan Bau]. It almost sounded like slide guitar. It felt very bluesy too. - Betto Arcos; NPR All Things Considered Weekend Edition  

          The dramatic interest, unusual instruments and playing techniques coupled with stellar musicianship, keen visual interest and a stage presence to die for all contributed to its status as a masterpiece. - Johnathon Bakan; SF Asian Music Examiner 

          Her appearance was dramatic in stunning costume and headdress, her music was riveting, her stage presence theatrical, and her contribution to Vietnamese musical culture outstanding. - Heather Morris; Peninsula Review 

          The music is rhythmically compelling - it weaves a story through the notes; a walk in mysterious woods or whatever the imagination can conjure up. The music is quite hypnotic in nature, the notes of the stringed instruments in particular so malleable they can express a range of emotions in a single wavering note. - Anya Wassenberg; Art & Culture Maven 

          Indeed, Vo’s energy and enthusiasm for musical creativity seems to transcend any particular instrument and instead feed off a fundamental sonic curiosity, as well as a desire to reflect on her cultural heritage and share those sounds with new ears. Vo draws strong connection between American jazz and the improvisation involved in traditional Vietnamesemusic. - Molly Sheredan; New Music Box 

          Vân-Ánh Võ is a mesmerizingly awesome, Emmy award-winning zither player (among other instruments), and someone who is not only fascinating to hear, but fun to watch. My entire exposure to zithers up to this point was the soundtrack to The Third Man, so I associated zithers with laid-back cool. Vân-Ánh takes it to a whole other level. She moves about that zither with the crazy self-confidence of someone who’s completely mastered an instrument, it’s pretty inspiring stuff … Vân-Ánh, on the other hand is energetic, striking poses behind them [Kronos Quartet], focused, iconic looking and always giving it her all. – London City Night Review, 2012 London Olympic  


Coming from a family of musicians and began studying đàn tranh (16-string zither) from the age of four, Van-Anh graduated with distinction from the Vietnam 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 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 and outside of Vietnam.

In addition to touring internationally, Vân-Ánh has presented her music at Carnegie Hall, Zellerbach Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and as a composer and guest artist for the Kronos Quartet at the Olympic Games 2012 Music Festival. In 2002, Vân-Ánh released her first CD, Twelve Months, Four Seasons; and in 2009, she released She’s Not She with award-winning composer Do Bao. Most recently, she released her third CD Three-Mountain Pass with the Kronos Quartet as her guest artist. 

Besides dan tranh, Van-Anh also performs as soloist on the monochord (dan bau), the 36-string hammered dulcimer (dan tam thap luc), the bamboo xylophone (dan t’rung), the k’longput, traditional drums (trong), and Chinese guzheng. She lives and teaches dan tranh and other Vietnamese traditional instruments in Fremont, California. For further information regarding dan tranh, traditional Vietnamese traditional music, or future CDs, please visit website: www.vananhvo.com or email: dantranhviet@vananhvo.com.


LEADERSHIP AND EDUCATOR EXPERIENCE

2002-present 

Founder and Artistic Director, Van-Anh Vo & The VA’V Ensemble. 

2012-present

dan Tranh / dan Bau Master & Artistic Director, Su Viet Zither Ensemble, Au Co Cultural Center, San Francisco

1997-2000

Founder and Director, Dong Noi Ensemble. Most well-known traditional music group in Vietnam of 20 members that toured worldwide such as France, Austria, America, Eastern Europe, Indonesia, Japan, and China.

1995-2000

Dan Tranh Professor for Ha Noi National Academy of Music, Ha Noi, Vietnam.

 

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

2014 * Artist Laureate Awards from Silicon Valley Creates. On Stage Category.

2013 * Top 10 Best World Music Compilation from NPR 

2009 * Emmy Award for co-composed documentary “Bolinao 52”

2002 * Co-composed & Recorded soundtrack for Sundance best documentary & 2003 Academy Awards nominee "Daughter from Danang"

1995 * Vietnam National Championship Tittle and First Prize for Best Presentation on Contemporary Music

 

GRANT AWARDS

2017 * San Francisco Chamber of Music / Musical Grant and City of San Jose, CA Take pART grant / The Walter & Elis Haas Fund / California Art Council

2016 * USAritst International grant, Mid Atlantic Foundation / The Walter and Elise Haas Fund / California Art Council

2014 * Creative Work Fund / USAritst International grant, Mid Atlantic Foundation

2011 * Master-Apprenticeship Program from ACTA, also awarded for 2015 and 2017

 

RECORD RECORDINGS 

2013 * Three-Mountain Pass. Innova Recording / 2010 * She’s Not She / 2002 * Twelve Months, Four Seasons

 

EDUCATION

2002-2006 * Shanghai National Conservatory of Music, Shanghai, China

2001-2004 * Mission College, Santa Clara, CA

1992-1995 * Bachelor of Arts at Ha Noi National Academy of Music, Ha Noi, Vietnam, specializing in 16-string zither ("dan tranh"), 36-string instrument ("dan tam thap luc"), monochord ("dan bau"), and T'rung bamboo xylophone.