It doesn't take much to search out certain parts of Vietnamese culture in Orange County. Take a spin around Garden Grove, Fountain Valley or Westminster and it's impossible to go more than a few blocks without a pho restaurant, a Korean church or Asian market staring you in the face. But when was the last time you stumbled upon a traditional celebration of Vietnamese music? That's exactly what Cathy Lam was trying to remedy when she started Fire and Bronze, an event dedicating to bridging the gap between traditional Vietnamese folk music, jazz, classical and other western sounds. The centerpiece of the event is the replica of a traditional bronze drum (known as a Đông Sơn drum), an important ceremonial instrument in ancient Vietnamese culture.
The event features performances by five extraordinary musicians from various disciplines, including Emmy and Grammy Award-winning composer Vân-Ánh Vanessa Vo, whose mastery of the đàn tranh zither(16-string zither--a classic Vietnamese instrument) has been a passion since she was four years-old. Playing alongside renowned bassist Aaron Germain, woodwind multi-instrumentalist Sheldon Brown, Taiko drummer Jimi Nakagawa and special guest composer/polymath Nguyên Lê, Vo says she's excited to exhibit a new take on the traditional Vietnamese music. The event takes place today at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Theater Center in Westminster. Prior to that, aspiring historians can come early at 2:30 p.m. to check out a special Đông Sơn culture and bronze drum exhibit hosted by Drs. Chan and Quynh Kieu.
It might surprise some that before creating Fire and Bronze, Lam's background in community building has nothing to do with music. As co-founder of Our1World, a non-profit organization specializing in environmental sustainability, Lam's mission to bring educational workshops and programs to Vietnam are always a major priority. But it wasn't until early in 2011 that she decided to create Fire and Bronze after a chance meeting with Vo, who relayed her passion to reinvent traditional Vietnamese folk music. After gathering an all-star cast of musicians to join Vo on stage, the first Fire and Bronze quickly took shape. Returning again for a second year, Vo and Lam are excited once again to share sounds preserved by soon-to-be-extinct masters who've kept Vietnamese classical and folk music alive for decades.
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Fire and Bronze: Sat. Nov. 3 Rose Theater Center 14140 All American Way, Westminster, CA 92683. (714) 793-1150. $25-$100. All ages. For more information visit www.firenbronze.com.