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Vân-Ánh Võ's Musical Voyage Shares the Personal Journeys of Vietnamese Refugees

by Sarah Hua
2 September 2016

HOUSTON, September 2, 2016—Asia Society Texas Center partnered with Miller Outdoor Theatre to present Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning composer Vân-Ánh Võ in the regional premiere of The Odyssey—from Vietnam to America. A sea of viewers enjoyed an engaging multimedia performance that vividly depicted the personal and spiritual journey of the Vietnamese boat people. Võ said of her project: "I wanted to show the unimaginable suffering, unflagging will to survive, and unwavering determination to succeed of the Vietnamese boat people, and to deliver the message of peace, of healing and of forgiveness. Beyond their experience, I am highlighting the incredible power of our human spirit—the value of freedom and the will to live."

Although Võ created the The Odyssey to highlight the determination of those who survived conflict and political upheaval during the Vietnam War, the project is also meant to convey stories of human transformation that resonate for all. "Today, the world’s seas are again filling with boat people who are willing to risk everything to escape despair and upheaval towards places of safety, opportunity and freedom." The Odyssey is meant to "embrace the parallel experiences of people from other communities."

Võ was joined on the stage by members of The VA'V: Alex Kelly (cello, vocal), Rob Reich (accordion, piano, vocal), and Jimi Nakagawa (percussions, taiko drums). The 90-minute performance featured Vietnamese instruments, folk songs, and lullabies, blended with electronic sounds, western instruments, field recordings, and interview clips to immerse the audience in the refugee experience.

 

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