Multi-Disciplinary Performance Piece ‘Mekong: SOUL’ Makes Exclusive, In-Progress Premiere at Asia Society Texas
HOUSTON, March 13, 2023 — The multi-disciplinary performance piece Mekong: SOUL made its exclusive, in-progress premiere at Asia Society Texas over two nights on February 17–18, prior to its full premiere at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
Help Us Build a More Inclusive World
Composed by Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ and Jonathan Berger, Mekong: SOUL consists of 12 powerful and multi-sensory stories about life on the Mekong River of Southeast Asia and among Southeast Asian diasporic communities. The work was produced in collaboration with Houston’s Apollo Chamber Players and their 15th Anniversary Season “Connective Harmony” programs, and included performances by Burmese musician Su Wai Hliang, Cambodian dancer and choreographer Charya Burt, and storyteller Doy Charnsupharindr. The impact of the performances was a testament to the creative ingenuity that can result from cross-cultural artistic dialogues.
Divided into three movements, Mekong: SOUL starts in a “Distant Land," moves to the “Real World,” and ends “In the Heart.” This “journey” along the river featured the Vietnamese đàn tranh zither, đàn bầu monochord, and đàn T’rưng bamboo xylophone, and Burmese saung gauk harp, with musical styles ranging from traditional folk styles to psychedelic rock. Khmer chhayam and classical dance were performed by Burt while Charnsupharindr read poetry by Nguyễn Vĩnh Bảo (translated by Alexander M. Cannon), Mạc Thiên Tứ (translated by Claudine Ang), and himself. The work concluded with a reflection on the deep impression a river known as “Mother Mekong” has on everyone who experiences her.
Artistic Director, Lead Composer, and Performer
Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ,
Apollo Chamber Players
Matthew J. Detrick, Founder, Artistic & Executive Director, violin
Anabel Ramirez Detrick, violin
Matthew Dudzik, cello
Molly Wise, viola guest artist
Burmese Harp, Percussion, Vocalist
Su Wai Hliang
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.