Vân-Ánh Võ started studying music in Vietnam at the age of four. She trained with six different musical masters. "We have 54 different ethnic groups in Vietnam, and we have so many different genres! But regardless of what regions they come from, they shared the same thing: the same quality of belief. Music doesn't have borders. Culture doesn't have borders."
Võ lives in Fremont now with her husband and children, and her work here as a musician and composer resonates with U.S. audiences. She's won an Emmy, collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, and played at top venues like the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. She's even played a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. (At 6:30 in, listen to her witty take on Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 3, performed on the dan Bau.)
So it was the South Bay non-profit Sangam Arts commissioned Võ to writing something new blending the Vietnamese, Chicano and African-American cultural traditions of the Santa Clara Valley.
Võ started as she typically does, by interviewing people to hear their life stories. "To share the voices of immigrants, the strength that immigrants bring to this country, the ways that our immigrants built this country, right? Altogether," she said.