“My boast, today, is anything I can do on the normal piano I can do on the toy piano,” pianist Margaret Leng Tan remarked in a recent interview with The Journal Sentinel’s Jim Higgins. With a doctorate from Juilliard, it’s not exactly too nervy of Tan to boast. Her ability to coax qualities from an instrument one-tenth the size of a typical piano is unprecedented, as is her interpretations of the one of the greatest pioneers of avant-garde music, John Cage. Tan tackles Cage, the Beatles and more, all on a pint-sized instrument, composed of miniature strings and tiny hammers, creating sounds that rival its larger instrument counterpart. As Tan has delved further into her work with the toy piano, she has found “you could actually create subtleties…if you practice hard enough.”
Tan, born in Singapore, is currently a New York resident and will be arriving in Milwaukee this week to perform with Milwaukee’s own Present Music ensemble, who will join Tan on her solo compositions to create new arrangements adding the depth and more enveloping perspective of strings. Tan is looking forward to her collaboration with Present Music, offering , “It’s so lovely that Kevin [Stalheim] had this idea that we all come together and combine string quartet with toy piano; really a stroke of genius on his part.”
For Saturday’s performance of TOYS!, Tan and company will perform Ge Gan-ru’s “Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!”, a melodrama for voice self-accompanied by a 17-piece toy orchestra. Tune into 91.7 FM WMSE on Thursday, January 6th to hear Tan speak to WMSE Station Manager Tom Crawford about her upcoming performance with Present Music. Tan will be visiting WMSE during The 5 & Dime show [9 a.m. – 12 p.m., CST]. 91.7 FM on your radio dial or WMSE.org to stream online, live. Read the full article in The Journal Sentinel, *here*.
Present Music and 91.7 FM WMSE, along with Alternating Currents, presents Margaret Leng Tan at Turner Hall Ballroom [1034 N. 4th Street] on Saturday, January 8th for an 7:30 p.m. show.