I received an email from Random Access Music for a call-for-proposals to new music ensembles and individual artists. As a Queens-based musician, I was excited to see an organized effort to bring new music to Queens. Sadly people seem to be reluctant to do things in Queens, but the series will take place at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City right near the PS1 Moma. I hope that Random Access Music will get some fresh musicians involved. To find out more about what they are looking for, how to apply and about RAM, please visit their website.
I will be giving a short in-store performance at Permanent Records (181 Franklin, Greenpoint) tonight at 7PM. It is in celebration of my new mini-CD Mesmers that features all original works for toy piano, bowls, music boxes and electronics. The whole album is only 20 minutes, so it should be short and sweet. Since it’s an in-store performance, my set will be stripped down a bit and I’m looking forward to even more exaggerated miniature set-up that I will be using. Hope to see some of you there!
On the second day of my tour, we went to Ghent, Belgium to participate in Tweelank, a two-night festival of music at Campo Santo, a crumbly beautiful church on top of a hill surrounded by an impressive cemetery. The cemetery is the burial grounds for many writers,painters and composers. I found the idea of performing at a cemetery church to be interesting and curious for me. The acoustics were very reverberant–it was a thoughtful place picked out by the guys at Kraak for the acts they had chosen for Tweelank.
Kraak is an organization in Belgium that supports and promotes a large amount of experimental/left-field music acts. They book shows and bring artists from around the world to Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp. Since they do not have a dedicated venue, they choose different venues depending on the act they are bringing in. Each year they also have a festival in March and they promote a film series and other concerts throughout the year. I was disappointed to have missed the concert the night before for Tweelank because it featured Limpe Fuchs, an artist that performed on a large stone xylophone and other acoustic/visual instruments. After talking to her, I found out that the stones were picked out in Switzerland and she has been performing sculptural instruments for a very long time. She also had this large drum elevated with a long pipe-tube hanging from it that sounded like a low deep gong or chime. I couldn’t imagine touring with these large one-of-a-kind instruments. You can see some performance clips of her on these instruments on her site.
Tonight finishes my mini-tour at Berlin’s ex-brothel, Madame Claude in a colorful café-filled district, Kreuzberg. I found this venue online when I was looking for potential concert promoters/bars/cafés a couple of months ago. They have been known for their experimental music as well as booking some other big-time acts that come through Berlin. One of the cool characteristics of this place is that everything is upside-down with sofas,lamps and tables glued to the ceiling. I thought this would be a good place for a toy piano concert. I will also be joined by Banana Pill, a Finland-based minimalist/experimental/psychedelic group.
The entire tour has been incredibly eye-opening and stimulating for my music. It has been a tour filled with alternative venues without any association with the classical music scene, which has been overly-refreshing. At a day and age when anyone can make any music, it seems a bit forced to continually associate my work to the classical music tradition. My only criticism is that the classical music world seems like it is struggling to survive in this time and therefore looking for people that have “tricks” up their sleeve. Unfortunately, those situations make me feel like my work on the toy piano isn’t taken seriously for what it is, but rather a classical music programming twist. This tour has really responded to my unrealized faith that unique music can truly find its own audience. I really hope to reach out to more audience that will like my music for what it is. I will be sure to write more stories upon my return!
Thirteen years after Margaret Leng Tan released her first solo toy piano album Art of the Toy Piano, she releases an even more unforgettable sequel album, She Herself Alone. It is clear that Margaret has collected a handful of gorgeous gems throughout the years that portray a dramatic and epic journey with the toy piano. Some of my favorites include the haunting Hymn to Ruin by Ross Bolleter that is written for ruined piano and ruined toy piano, Eric Griswold’s playful Old MacDonald’s Yellow Submarine and Laura Liben’s enchanting She Herself Alone for toy piano and toy psaltery. Other works include George Crumb’s Put My Little Shoes Away from his American Songbook VI (cleverly arranged for toy piano and toy percussion by Margaret), two pieces by Cage including the Suite for Toy Piano and an arrangement of Dream, as well as the tango-filled An American in Buenos Aires by Toby Twining. One of my favorite parts on the album is Margaret’s unrestrained performance of Jerome Kitzke’s The Animist Child for toy piano and voice. The kind of abandonment in this recording is unforgettable!
This CD is more than a toy piano recording but a great collaboration between imaginative composers and an incredible performer. She Herself Alone is also available on DVD on Mode Records. Find out more at Margaret’s site.