September 4-12 2010


New Music Program Conception

Margaret Leng Tan

Margaret Leng Tan has established herself as a major force in the American avant-garde. Ms. Tan, whose work embraces theater, choreography, performance, has been called “the diva of avant-garde pianism” by The New Yorker. She is renowned as a pre-eminent John Cage interpreter and for her performances of American and Asian music that transcend the piano’s conventional boundaries.
Margaret Leng Tan has been hailed as “the queen of the toy piano” (The New York Times) and “the toy piano’s Rubenstein” (The Independent, UK). After discovering Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano in 1993, Ms. Tan became fascinated with the artistic potential of the toy piano and more recently, with other toy instruments as well. In her groundbreaking 1997 CD, The Art of the Toy Piano (Philips/Universal), she elevated a humble toy to the status of a real instrument. Critics acknowledge her as the world’s first toy piano virtuoso who has inspired composers to create a unique repertoire for a new instrument. Ms. Tan’s diminutive music-theater of nostalgia and humor has delighted audiences at festivals around the world. Her latest toy album, SHE HERSELF ALONE: The Art of the Toy Piano 2, has been released as a Mode Records CD and DVD (mode 221) to critical acclaim. It was awarded the Diapason d’Or from the French Diapason magazine in 2011. Cablevision’s Tan toy piano feature won the 2011 Bronze Telly Award.

Evans Chan’s 2004 documentary, Sorceress of the New Piano: The Artistry of Margaret Leng Tan, was nominated for “Best Music Documentary” at the American Film Institute/Discovery Channel’s SilverDocs. Sorceress was named "Best Contemporary Music Film" by Spain's CD Compact magazine in 2010. Sorceress and Chan’s The Maverick Piano, featuring live performances by Tan, are available as a Mode Records DVD (mode 194).

In 2011 Tan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by the State University of New York.

Originally from Singapore Margaret Leng Tan lives in Brooklyn, New York with 3 Steinways, 20 toy pianos and 5 dogs (at last count).