Tan, Margaret Leng
Tan, Margaret Leng
Tan, Margaret Leng, significant Singaporean-American pianist; b. Penang, Malaysia, Dec. 12, 1945. She was educated in Singapore. At 16, she went to N.Y., where she studied with Adele Marcus at the Juilliard School, becoming the first woman to graduate with the D.Mus. degree (1971). Tan specializes in new Asian and American music, evolving a highly individual approach to performance wherein sound, choreography, and theater assume equal significance; she has worked closely with such composers as John Cage, Alvin Lucier, William Duckworth, Lois V Vierk, Somei Satoh et al. in defining her role as the world’s premiere string piano virtuoso. She became particularly known for her interpretive command of the works of Cage, giving performances throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia; also appeared in PBS American Masters documentaries on Cage (1990) and Jasper Johns (1989). During the 1990-91 season, she presented retrospective performances of Cage’s music in conjunction with retrospective exhibitions of Johns’ paintings at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Whitney Museum of American Art in N.Y., the Hayward Gallery in London, and the Center for Fine Arts in Miami; she also performed for Cage exhibitions at the Neue Pinakothek (Munich 1991), “II Suono rapido delle Cose (Cage & Company)” at the 45th
Venice Biennale (1993), and at the Guggenheim Museum’s “Rolywholyover A Circus” and related “Citycir-cus” events (1994). In 1984 she received an NEA Arts Solo Recitalist award (1984) and in 1988 an Asian Cultural Council grant for contemporary music research in Japan. In 1987 she appeared with the Brooklyn Phil., and in 1991 made her debut with the N.Y. Phil. Among her critically acclaimed recordings are Litania: Margaret Leng Tan Plays Somei Satoh (1988), Sonic Encounters: The New Piano (1989; with works by Cage, Hovhaness, Crumb, Satoh, and Ge Gan-ru), and Daughters of the Lonesome Isle (1994). From 1993 she developed a repertory for the toy piano through commissions and transcriptions. Tan also is a regular contributor to Piano Today. She currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y., with 2 dogs, 3 Steinways, and 9 toy pianos.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire