Margaret Leng Tan.JPG

Margaret Leng Tan


Legendary Singaporean pianist Margaret Leng Tan has established herself as a major force within the American avant-garde; a highly talented and visionary pianist whose work sidesteps perceived artificial boundaries within the usual concert experience.

Renowned for her interpretations of her mentor John Cage, Tan returns to Melbourne for an eclectic program on toy piano, piano and assorted sound objects. The concert features a Satie miniature, Jed Distler’s Minute Ring, Beatles classic ‘Eleanor Rigby’ reinterpreted on toy piano, arranged by Toby Twining, and Erik Griswold’s Chooks! and Bicycle Lee Hooker performed on all manner of items. The Australian premiere of Philip Glass’s early minimalist piano solo, How Now, is the centerpiece in this concert of maximal contrasts with the toy piano holding its own against its behemoth counterpart.

Margaret Leng Tan said:

‘I am really excited to be entertaining Melbourne audiences with Miniature meets Monumental. It is a program where I can express myself as a sit-down comic; if people leave with smiles on their faces then I will have done my job. At one end of the spectrum toys create theatrical and musical mayhem, while at the other extreme the adult piano valiantly holds its own, generating massive sonorities in Henry Cowell’s Tides of Manaunaun and Somie Satoh‘s incandescent Cosmic Womb. All in all, the breadth and scope of this event is quite awesome, even if I do say so myself! With toys and invented instruments, the sky is the limit because there are no rules. The only limits are the limits of your imagination. Come with an open mind and open ears.’

Tan was the first woman to earn a doctorate from Juilliard, but youthful restlessness and a desire to explore the crossroads between Asian music and that of the West led her to John Cage. This sparked an active collaboration between Cage and Tan that lasted from 1981 to his death, during which Tan gained recognition as one of the preeminent interpreters of Cage’s piano music. After Cage’s death in 1992, she was chosen as the featured performer in a tribute to his memory at the 45th Venice Biennale where she performed his 1948 composition Suite for Toy Piano. ‘That’s when I started discovering the magic of toy instruments,’ Tan says, ‘Little did I realize that down the road, half a century later, his little Suite for Toy Piano would be the catalyst for a whole new world and repertoire of real music being made on toy instruments. This will be my legacy: that I have made the toy piano a real instrument.’

‘Tan is the toy piano’s Rubenstein, coaxing an immensity of feeling from a limited tonal range.’ The Independent (U.K.)


Friday 23 August 7.30pm
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (95-mins incl. interval)
Tickets $50 ($40 conc)
Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre

For more information and to book tickets click here.


Di Rolle | 0419 001 068