Fire and Bronze

About Fire and Bronze

Imagine pieces from Vietnamese pop songs such as Con Mua Ha, to iconic oldies like Dust in the Wind, to Jimmy Hendrix’s most well-known song Purple Haze, to George Gershwin’s melancholic Summertime, to classical, traditional music and more, and wonder how they will be interpreted by the VA’V Trio with ultra-talented Vanessa Van-Anh Vo, PC Muñoz and Alex Kelly. Come to find a diverse program that promises to entertain and leave a great impression on the audience!

The concert also supports the Health Initiatives through Peer Education (HIPE) program under the VANGO network to provide sustainable solutions to address health and social issues in the most disadvantaged communities through youth empowerment and community engagement.

“From the flame of strength that knows no limits, rises the music of Wild Spirits.” -FnB

History of Lửa Đông Sơn

Traditionally agricultural, Việt Nam is one of the oldest regions in South-East and East Asia. Evidence suggests that the land of today’s Việt Nam has been inhabited since Paleolithic times (10,000 years BC or earlier). Numerous archaeological sites in Northern Viet Nam indicate that the Vietnamese civilization began in the late Neolithic-early Bronze Age Province between 2000 and 1400 BC. This early civilization, known as the Phùng Nguyên culture, was centered in what is now Vĩnh Phúc Province. By about 1200 BC, the development of wet-rice cultivation and indigenous bronze casting in the Red River floodplains led to the development of the prominent Đông Sơn culture, notable for its elaborate bronze drums.

Similar to some other ancient cultures of the world, Vietnamese believed in the five basic elements of the material world: Metal (Kim); Water (Thuỷ); Earth (Thổ); Wood (Mộc) and Fire (Hoả/ Lửa). Bronze, a metal element (Kim) is closely identified with the Drums of the ancient Bronze Age Đông Sơn culture. The drums are found in areas ranging from South China through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia to the Southeast Asian Islands. To the ancient Vietnamese, the drums were also used as burial vessels for high ranking officials, items of religious worship, and as a musical instrument with unsurpassed heroic sounds. It’s unique resonance carried messages through tropical jungles and open fields, calling warriors to arms, and rallying tribes against enemies. Fire and Bronze Lửa Đông Sơn strives to promote and maintain Vietnamese heritage through performances and cultural events to the community.

A Word from the Producer

In early 2011, I had the excellent luck of meeting Vân-Ánh, an amazing musician and artist. Immediately, I was struck by her passion to preserve and elevate the traditional đàn tranh music to the world stage. To reinvent the music and her own artistry, Vân-Ánh continues to seek out mentors from different music traditions: western, classical, jazz. The collaboration of artists in the Fire And Bronze music events brings citizens of the world together to create, play and celebrate their work, their culture, their music and art. It’s an honor to be part of this collaboration. – Cathy Lam, June 2012

About the Artists

Vân-Ánh Võ

Vân-Ánh Võ is one of the finest performers of Vietnamese instruments in the world and a rapidly emerging composer. She dedicates her life to creating music by blending the wonderfully unique sounds of Vietnamese instruments with other music genres and fusing deeply rooted Vietnamese musical traditions with fresh new structures and compositions.

Vân-Ánh comes from a family of musicians and began studying the đàn Tranh (16-string zither) at the age of four. She graduated with distinction from the Vietnam National Academy of Music and won the National Đàn Tranh Competition in 1995. She has toured over twenty five countries and presented her music at top venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, NPR, and the Olympic Games 2012 Music Festival. Since settling in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2001, Vân-Ánh has focused on collaborating with musicians across different music genres to create new works, bringing Vietnamese traditional music to a wider audience, and preserving her cultural legacy through teaching.

Vân-Ánh Võ was co-composer and arranger for the Oscar® nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary, Daughter from Danang (2002), the Emmy® Award-winning film and soundtrack for Bolinao 52 (2008), and the winner of multiple Best Documentary and Audience Favorite awards, A Village Called Versailles (2009). Her latest CD, Three-Mountain Pass, featuring the Kronos Quartet, was selected as one of NPR’s Best 10 World Music CDs of 2013. She has recently been invited and participated as a judge in the World Music category for the 2015 Grammy.

In addition to đàn Tranh, Vân-Ánh also performs as soloist on the monochord (đàn Bầu), bamboo xylophone (đàn T’rung), traditional drums (trống) and many other traditional instruments.

PC Muñoz

PC Muñoz is a recording artist, producer, percussionist, and writer based in San Francisco. His genre-defying projects are stylistically broad and deep, revealing an artistic explorer equally at home with contemporary classical, funk, hip-hop, spoken-word, public art installations, and modern dance/multimedia productions.

Muñoz’s partnership with composer/cellist/longtime Kronos Quartet member Joan Jeanrenaud has yielded two highly acclaimed projects: the Grammy-nominated album Strange Toys and the iTunes-charting album Pop-Pop. A frequent and enthusiastic collaborator, PC has created with rock legend Jackson Browne, dream-pop poet/chanteuse Ingrid Chavez, Kulintang master Danny Kalanduyan, Oakland hip-hop artist Kev Choice, vocalist Jennifer Kreisberg of the legendary Native American group Ulali, Emmy-winning composer/virtuoso Van-Anh Vanessa Vo, and countless other musicians, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. PC is a 2015 Dresher Ensemble Artist-in-Residence, a 2014 Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center grantee, and a 2013 Loft Literary Center Equilibrium Immersion Fellow. His work has been praised by NPR, Performing Songwriter, DownBeat, URB, and many others.

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Alex Kelly

Dr. Alex Kelly, with three bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate in music, is a San Francisco based cellist, composer, electronic musician and conductor. He has premiered over 150 new works and recorded over 200 albums. Alex has composed for and performed with major orchestras and various ensembles in North America and Europe. He has also composed film scores and video game music. Alex orchestrated a concerto for four soloists for tabla guru Zakir Hussain that was premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in 2011.

Alex Kelly is the author of the cello technique book “The Seven Points” which teaches fingerboard mapping techniques that aim to help intermediate and advanced players master pitch accuracy through a sequence of exercises.

In his professional teaching world, Alex manages between 100 and 125 students each term, including those in the Urban School Chamber Orchestra, the electronic musicians and composers at the College of Marin, and private students with lessons in cello, piano, theory/composition, improvisation, and electronic music.

In his “underground” cello world, Alex’s multi-genre solo show, featuring original compositions using electronics and “live looping” techniques, has been seen in a variety of venues ranging from Davies Symphony Concert Hall to Yosemite mountaintops.

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Teresa Mai

Teresa Mai is a Vietnamese American trained opera singer, mantra artist and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and Kundalini Yoga. She is a sound artist who is inspired to bring healing and awakening through music. Teresa Mai was musically trained at California State University of Long Beach Music School and also at The Boston Conservatory of Music, with focuses in Opera and Voice. She has performed many different operatic roles throughout the US and Europe.

Teresa Mai began her spiritual journey while living in New York. She met her spiritual teachers who then guided her toward her practice and studies in Tibetan Buddhism, Kundalini Yoga, Yoga of Lady Niguma and the Yoga of Sound and Mantra. Teresa Mai feels her journey has opened her heart to divine love inspiring her to live her life with the intention to bring light and joy into the lives of others through her voice and her love for music. She released her first mantra album “Yoga is Love” during Summer Solstice 2012 and collaborated on several other albums with teachers and artists Amanbir Singh and Sajah Singh. She is currently working on her second solo spiritual album, scheduled to be released in 2014. She is a featured artist on Ra Ma Record’s first compilation album released in December 2013.

Teresa Mai also teaches Kundalini yoga and voice throughout southern California. She is the co-founder of Awakening the Heart Productions, where she and her partner Peter Oppermann produce an array of events promoting awakening and self-healing.

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Nguyên Lê, Guitars and Bass, Guitar Synthesizer, Programming,Composition and Arrangements

Born in Paris of Vietnamese parents, Nguyên Lê is a self-taught musician with a wide scope of interests that range from rock, funk and jazz, to African, Caribbean, Vietnamese and Indian music. In 1983, he founded Ultramarine, a multi-ethnic band whose second album, “Dé” was named “1989’s Best World Music Album” by Libération.

Some of his other musical accomplishments include performing with the French National Jazz Orchestra (O.N.J.) in 1987, for which he wrote “Processor” and “Lunik” with Dominique Borker. He played for and with greats like Ray Charles, Carla Bley, Gil Evans, Quincy Jones, Peter Erskine, Vince Mendoza, Trilok Gurtu, Dave Liebman, Ornette Coleman, Cassandra Wilson, Jack Bruce, Michel Petrucciani, Uri Caine, Hariprasad Chaurasia and many others.

In 1995, Nguyên Lê created “Tales from Viêt-Nam,” an eight-piece band blending jazz and traditional Vietnamese music. Since then, several projects were built: a score for “Sheitan,” a movie by Kim Chapiron with Vincent Cassel; for “Saigon Eclipse,” a Vietnamese film by Othello Khanh. Nguyên Lê was commissioned to write two “classical” compositions for the Ahn Trio & the Laguna Beach Fest in LA. In 2011 Nguyên Lê was awarded the rank of ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French Cultural Minister and received the Django Reinhardt prize by the French Academie du Jazz. Ting Ning, excerpted from his 1996 CD, “Tales from Viet-Nam”, was selected as a piece from one of only 4 European artists to be included in the 6-CD compendium, “Jazz: the Smithsonian Anthology”.

“Signature Edition,” a lengthy album showing 20 years of music creation was released in 2010.  Nguyên Lê has published 14 albums as a leader, the most successful being “Purple, Celebrating Jimi Hendrix” which sold 25,000 copies.

His last album, “Songs of Freedom,” released in 2011, is an exotic, electric and eccentric reading of pop hits from the 70’s. The album received a fantastic welcoming from the international press and was on top of the jazz charts of iTunes and Amazon

Nguyên Lê is a masterful, inventive player who has cultivated a wholly unique voice on the instrument; he ranks right up there with Frisell, John Scofield, Mike Stern & Allan Holdsworth in the post-Hendrix world of jazz guitar. – Jazztimes

Few musicians embody the word “fusion” more than Parisian-born guitarist Nguyên Lê. For the past 25 years he’s been mining a combination of fusion by the more conventional definition —the infusion of rock energy into the jazz sphere—with fusion in a broader sense, the seamless integration of music from cultures around the world. – All About Jazz

The accomplished French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le is one of the most creative of the many jazz players exploring the marriage of “America’s classical music” with traditional music from everywhere else. Le focuses on his roots, in VietnamNew York Times

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Hiroyuki Jimi Nakagawa, Taiko Drum

Jimi Nakagawa started playing drums when he was in high school. He performed with local bands in Japan and San Francisco. In 1987, Jimi joined the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Directed by Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and became a performing member and instructor to adults and children. Nakagawa returned to Japan in 1997 to continue his study of Taiko and to perform with Sukeroku Daiko Hozonkai and Master Kenjiro Maru, two musicians who played the Wakayama style festival music.

In 2009 and 2010, Jimi Nakagawa studied a Japanese hand drum called the “tuzumi,” with a Master Saburo Mochizuki in Tokyo. In addition to studying Japanese traditional music, he has also studied jazz with celebrated drummer Robert Kaufman, a former professor at the Berkley College of Music.

In 1999, he and three other members founded a San Francisco Bay Area based Taiko group, Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, and started his own Taiko school in Oakland, OH-IN TAIKO.

Currently, Nakagawa is performing in the Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, as well as Essence, which is led by a Shakuhachi player, Masayuki Koga. He has also collaborated with Robert Moses and Robert Moses Kin, Dr. Anthony Brown and the Asian American Orchestra, Steven Kent of Ancient Future, Habib Kahn and jazz/fusion guitarist, Nguyên Lê.

Jimi Nakagawa’s refined but driving stick work has been featured in film, video and on stage.

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Sheldon Brown, Saxophone, Clarinet, Piccolo, Flute, Alto Sax

Composer and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Sheldon Brown formed the Sheldon Brown Group in 1993, and in 1996 he released the jazz/fusion CD “Shifting Currents”. Brown tours internationally (most recently with pianist Omar Sosa) to world-renowned venues such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Moers Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Jazz d’Or, Toronto Jazz Festival and the Spoleto Festival. He is featured on Omar Sosa’s CDs “Prietos”, “Bembon”, “Spirit of the Roots” and “Free Roots” and on Ian Dogole’s CDs “Ionospheres” and “Night Harvest”.

Brown is a member of San Francisco’s Club Foot Orchestra, for whom he has composed scores for Film Roman’s cartoon series “The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat” and silent films such as Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.” and “Cops”, G. W. Pabst’s “Pandora’s Box” and Robert Wiene’s “Hands of Orlac”. Club Foot has performed at New York’s Knitting Factory, Walter Reade Theater, at Lincoln Center and the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C. Brown performed in Anthony Braxton’s “Composition No. 132” at Grace Cathedral as part of the 1986 San Francisco Jazz Festival. He also performs regularly with the Realistic Orchestra.

He currently teaches composition at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, California.

Sheldon appeared here previously with “Hemispheres”, featuring Ian Dogole, Paul McCandless and Bill Douglass, with Clarinet Thing, and with the Sheldon Brown Group.

Aaron Germain, Electric Bass and Up-Right Bass

Aaron Germain’s philosophy has always been to be picky about quality, but never about music genres. A master of both upright and electric bass, he adeptly plays diverse genres of music: straight-ahead jazz, cabaret, modern jazz, R&B, funk, salsa, Brazilian, west African, Indian, odd-meter, country and pop.

Though Germain grew up in Massachusetts, he has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2000, showcasing his talents across the globe at venues like the Blue Note (New York), Zanzibar Blue (Philadelphia), Le Club Jazz (Kyoto), Z Imagine (Tokyo),The San Francisco Jazz Festival and the New Millennium Festival in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

Over the years, Germain has performed with Youself Lateef, Stanley Jordan, Michael Wolff, Tom Coster, Scott Hamilton, Andy Narell

“Aaron Germain has carved out a solid career as one of the busiest bassists on the jazz scene. His debut CD, “Before You Go,” shows off not only his sublime proficiency on stand-up and electric bass, but also his dazzling compositional skills.” – David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“While the quality of his playing is obvious, Germain never uses the tunes simply to demonstrate his talent—neither does he push his own instrument too far to the front of the mix. The result is a beautifully balanced recording that gives all the musicians space to play.” – By Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz

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About the Founding Sponsors

Center for Encouragement of Self Reliance (CESR)
Since 1999, Center for Encouragement of Self Reliance (CESR), recognized by the United States as a 501 (c) (3) charity organization, operates Trung Tâm Khuyến Khích Tự Lập (TTKKTL) in Huế, Vietnam, helps poor children with warm winter clothes, gives scholarships, and assists more than 20,000 families in over 35 communities with micro-loans to pursue a trade to be self-reliant. Currently TTKKTL endeavors to help teach 10,000 poor children to swim and to establish toilet facilities at the marketplaces in collaboration with the local communities in Thừa Thiên-Huế province. CESR also provides matching grants to many VA-NGOs who help needy Vietnamese inside or outside Vietnam.The United Nations conferred to CESR the UN Habitat – Civil Society Innovation Award in 2008.

CHEER for Viet Nam (Cultural, Health, Education and Environment Resources)
Since its inception in 1993, CHEER for Viet Nam, a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization based in California, has been dedicated to economic, educational and cultural projects that improve the quality of the lives of disadvantaged children and people in Viet Nam; enhance cross-cultural understanding, educational exchange and collaboration between Viet Nam and the United States; contribute to the building of trust, tolerance, and peace among peoples.

We believe in simple living in our shared world. We promote sustainable choices for food, water, energy, transportation and housing.

Our current focus is on Solar Energy Aplliances (SEA) with PhotoVoltaic solar ceiling fans for ventilation, and cooling the building while keeping insects and mosquitoes away; Bep Lo Xanh Rocket Stoves to reduce indoor air pollution and deforestation; Youth Media PSA project on Making Healthy Choices, Building Healthy Community.

Project Viet Nam Foundation
Project Vietnam Foundation’s mission is to improve the health and healthcare of people living in underserved rural communities of Viet Nam. We carry out this mission through providing free healthcare services throughout the country, medical training of local healthcare professionals, and advocacy to improve healthcare policies.

VANGO Network
The VANGO Network is an alliance of Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organizations with programs in Việt Nam and USA. Its mission is to strengthen its members’ abilities to have a broad impact in humanitarian and development work in Vietnam by building a united voice on issues of common interest, and delivering practical benefits to our members through technical and capacity-building assistance.

In order to realize its mission, VANGO carries out a number of activities, including conducting capacity-building workshops in Việt Nam and the US for staff and local partners of Network members. These workshops cover a whole range of topics, including: community health and well-being, education, social work, etc.

About the Producer

Cathy Lâm is an advocate for environmental sustainability and co-founder of Our1World. Our1World, established in 2005, facilitates numerous projects to assist families and children in Việt Nam. These projects include Solar Energy Appliances, such as Photovoltaic Solar Ceiling Fans and Bếp Lò Xanh Rocket Stove to reduce deforestation while aiming at reducing indoor air pollution health risks. Cathy sponsors and conducts annual workshops in Vietnam with the VA NGO Network to teach Nutrition and Healthy Living with an emphasis on the environment. Cathy was actively involved with Soymilk Nutritional Supplement Program. Her current projects include youth media PSA Public Service Announcement on Making Healthy Choices, Building Healthy Communities. She is active in watershed issues, and the preservation and restoration of Newport Bay. Since 2003, she has driven over 165K miles in her full electric vehicle powered mostly by the sun. This is Cathy’s third year as a producer.

Event Updates

Rose Theater Center, Westminster, CA
Saturday, Nov 3, 2012
7:30 PM

See video below of excerpts from the November 2012 performance.


“Fire and Bronze Concert” Broadcast on Little Saigon TV (LSTV)

On KSCI-LA (Channel 18) – Sunday, November 18, 2012, 6 PM – 7 PM, Part 1

On KJLA (Channel 57.7) – Sunday, November 18, 2012, 8 PM – 9 PM, Part 1 &  Thanksgiving Thursday, November 22, 2012, 6 PM, Parts 1 and 2

Việt Báo, 14841 Moran Street Westminster, CA 92683
Saturday, Jan 24, 2015
8:00 PM – 9:30 PM


Concert Ticket Prices:
$40 General
$100 VIP (Preferred seating)

Tickets Available:
1.  By Credit card or PayPal
2.  At Lee’s Sandwiches on Beach/McFadden: 15440 Beach Blvd., Westminster, CA 92683


“Đêm diễn của nghệ sĩ Vân Ánh tại Viện Việt Học” by Băng Huyền/Viễn Đông, Viễn Đông Daily News, October 01, 2012.

“Chương trình âm nhạc “Lửa Đông Sơn” sắp ra mắt tại Quận Cam” by Băng Huyền/Viễn Đông, Viễn Đông Daily News, October 29, 2012.

“Vân Ánh Võ & Đêm Hòa Nhạc Gây Quỹ Tại Hội Trường Việt Báo” by Đoàn Hưng, Việt Báo, January 16, 2015.

“Chương trình âm nhạc “Lửa Đông Sơn” (Fire Bronze) của nhóm tam tấu VA’V sắp ra mắt tại quận Cam” by Băng Huyền/Viễn Đông, Viễn Đông Daily News, January 17, 2015.

“Vân-Ánh Võ – Meaningful conduits” by Anil Prasad, Innerviews: Music Without Borders, 2015.

Contact us

For more information on the Fire and Bronze Lửa Đông Sơn Concert and Cultural Event, feel free to reach out to us at:, 714.330.3589, or connect with us on Facebook!

La Quinta High School Students at Fire and Bronze performance in 2012