Counterstream Radio
New Music Streaming 24/7
New Music Playlists
Browse Music, Video, Interviews and more.

Songs of Protest

Empowering voices and elevating roles for women of color to address social issues through innovative lens of Vietnamese traditional music

The Latest Update

Work-in-Progress concert for Songs of Protest in 2019

Posted on November 15, 2018 by Van-Anh Vo

Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center and the artistic team of The VA’V are very happy to announce that Songs of Protest is scheduled for work-in-progress (WIP) concert on April 21, 2019 at Legions of Honor Museum San Francisco. The production will be a part of Au Co’s annual concert. Audiences are mainly from Southeast Asia communities in San Francisco. We are planned to invite minimum 6 art practitioners from music and theatre fields as well as 2 presenters to be at the WIP to give professional feedbacks for the development of the production.  

Leading to the WIP concert, there will be 8 full rehearsals (4 hours each rehearsal) in March 2019. The focus of the WIP concert is on the music and some theatrical aspects.

More Updates ▼

Project went to Syracuse University

Posted on November 13, 2018 by Van-Anh Vo

As the song collection of Songs of Protest has been emerged, lead composer/performer Van-Anh Vo took the music to share at Syracuse University (SU) two weeks ago. During her teaching residency at SU, Van-Anh had great opportunities to talk to the students at classes like Composition, Film Scoring, Southeast Asia Studies … and even at Henninger High School about the inspirations, motivations to write music and work on the production. 

The whole week of the residency was concluded by the final concert on Friday, Nov. 2nd at Hendricks Chapel on Syracuse University campus. The music of Song of Protest was presented on the 2nd half of the program. Together with Van-Anh, an ALL-Star ensemble from Syracuse will join her to share voices of women. 

Here is the link to an article on her view toward immigrants and women: https://www.thenewshouse.com/entertainment/vietnamese-composer-vanessa-vo-wants-prove-all-same-boat/


New Funding Award & Premiere Date for Songs of Protest

Posted on October 31, 2018 by Van-Anh Vo

It is our honor to receive an additional support from Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco (https://www.cciarts.org/_Library/investing_releases/Investing_in_Artists_Press_Release_2018.pdf). With this support, Songs of Protest is officially scheduled for its premiere at Legion of Honors Museum, San Francisco on April 21, 2019.  

More concerts of the project are in planning. In the mean time, lead composer/performer Van-Anh Vo has been doing many workshop to introduce the project to communities. 


“Songs of Protest” represents the voices of women of color challenging traditional female roles in the 21st century by using a multi-media platform consisting of new music from Vietnamese and Western instruments, ambient sound, storytelling, historical references, and live media. Even though this project will address women of color, the hope is for our perspective to transcend over ethnic/racial boundaries in order to relate to all people who have experienced oppression and social inequality.

To make “Songs of Protest” relatable to individuals of other immigrant backgrounds, I will be collaborating with other females who have had personal experiences as an immigrant from war-torn countries that outwardly suppress women, including rising composer Aleksandra Vrebalov from Serbia. Lyrics will incorporate poetic lines from both past and present females leaders such as Maya Angelou, Ho Xuan Huong who was a 17th century female poet  resisted societal norms through her socio-political commentaries and embraced frank speech, and Nawal El Saadawi.

The work will contain four movements using Vietnamese traditional instruments as the core sound, complemented by instruments from the Middle East and Western instruments. In this 45 minute-long production, the flexible, almost unstructured, musical form of Cheo (Vietnamese northern opera), and A Dao (poem singing) will be artistically raw materials from team.

Western styles of rock and rap will be used to fully express the high energy vibrated against gender inequality. Bassist/composer Kai Eckhardt and rapper/composer Demone Carter will join The VA’V Ensemble to illustrate the clash and balance between traditional and contemporary music styles and sounds.

“Songs of Protest” will be produced and presented by AuCo Vietnamese Cultural Center (AuCo) with artistic support from community partners like San Francisco Center for New Music (C4NM) and Eastside Art Alliances (Eastside) in Oakland.

With 34 years of experiences working with immigrant communities, AuCo will organize workshops to introduce the production to communities and to initiate dialogue about social injustices and gender inequality, reach out to other local non-profits serving other ethnic communities for additional grass-roots support and marketing, and assist the artistic team administratively and logistically. C4NM and Eastside will provide a comprehensive platform for program development, incubation of new artists, engagement of new listeners, free rehearsal spaces, and testing the markets for new innovative collaborative music productions.

With experiences working on large scale productions like “All Clear” for Kronos Quartet, and “The Odyssey: From Vietnam to America” for my own quartet, “Songs of Protest” is a natural work progression to extend my focus in composing music that addresses social issues and elevates voices of immigrants. It is my way of offering a voice to the voiceless and positioning forward marches for women. We all deserve to feel empowered.  We all deserve to feel valued.  We all deserve to have the potentials and equal opportunities to reach that glass ceiling and shatter it.

“Songs of Protest” will premiere at Fort Mansion Cowell Theatre in San Francisco and discussions for possible concerts for the 2019-2020 seasons are being held.


Start and End Dates



San Francisco, California

3 updates
Last update on November 15, 2018

Project Created By

Fremont, California
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…

In Collaboration With

New York City, New York
Oakland, California
Presenter and Community Partner


Leave a Reply