Van-Anh Vo

Van-Anh Vo



Vân-Ánh Võ devotes 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”. Vân-Ánh also co-composed

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What do you do now? Has your art evolved or changed?

Firstly, it was an honor not only to myself but also to my Vietnamese community here. As new immigrants we are still struggling to raise families and find healing from the scars of the wars. When I was nominated and later awarded the Fellowship, I helped the Vietnamese-American younger generation to see and believe that yes, we can. It also helped the older Vietnamese-Americans realize that arts and music can bring peace to them, and reconnect them to their culture. The Laureate helps me to believe that I am doing the right things: preserving and developing our traditional art and using music as a tool to unite and bring peace to each other.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an emerging artist?

The Laureate award definitely opens other doors and opportunities for me to share my art and achieve my goals. I am working on my biggest production, The Odyssey-from Vietnam to America, which is inspired by the experiences of the Vietnamese Boat People. It portrays the incredible power of the human spirit, the value of freedom, the will to survive.?I am collaborating with Asian Americans for Community Involvement, and we were recently awarded $40,000 to work on the writing of the production. I have no doubt that the Laureate award helps me to establish my credibility so organizations and art presenters believe in me and my vision. I put aside a part of the award as seed money for The Odyssey, as well as for works that I am doing with Kronos Quartet to bring the most truthful and heart-felt arts to communities.

Briefly, how would you describe the state of the arts locally, as well as national and beyond?

Listen to your inner voice! Regardless how weird it is or how small the influence you may have, if you follow your inner voice and invest in making it come true, you are successful. There will be no one like you.

Great diversity but still needs help (especially to traditional artists).


  • TEDxSanJoaquin - Vanessa Vo - Breathing New Air into Tradition