Worldly Wednesday: “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” Vân-Anh Vanessa Vo

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Vo is a Vietnamese musician who specialized in traditional music.  The instrument she is playing is called the đàn bầu.  The đàn bầu is a single-stringed instrument whose pitch you change by pulling it with the bar on the end, which is made of buffalo horn.  Vo is an incredibly cool person for a whole variety of reasons, not least of which is that it is a seriously big deal to play traditional music as a woman – it’s (now almost) entirely dominated by men.  After she emigrated to the U.S., she collaborated with a number of groups, most notably Kronos Quartet (one of the major interpreters of Steve Reich’s music), and won an Emmy for her music in the documentary film, “Bolinao 52.”  Vo is a a big fan of blending eastern and western music, and this interpretation of the Johnny Cash song is touched with genius.  A hearty thanks to a friend and colleague who sent this to me.

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