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TOY TOY TOY! Toy Piano Performance and Talk by Margaret Leng Tan

The Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium National Gallery Singapore 26 Jan 2019 (Sa) 3:00 PM – 4:15 PM Free (registration required)

Margaret Leng Tan has been hailed as the “queen of the toy piano” by The New York Times. She will celebrate her quarter-century long career as a pioneer of the toy piano with reminiscences and selections from her rich repertoire of toy piano music. The audience will have a chance to speak with the legendary avant-garde pianist about her unorthodox approach to music-making and its attendant challenges.

This performance is held in conjunction with the exhibition Minimalism: Space. Light. Object at National Gallery Singapore.


Please ensure you have a registration ticket for the performance. You will need to present your ticket, along with your confirmation email, for admittance into the event.


Margaret Leng Tan, whose work embraces theatre, choreography, performance, has established herself as a major force in the American avant-garde. 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. After Cage’s death in 1992, she was chosen as the featured performer in a tribute to his memory at the 45th Venice Biennale.

After discovering John Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano in 1993, Leng Tan became fascinated with the musical potential of the toy piano. In her groundbreaking 1997 CD The Art of the Toy Piano (Philips/Universal), she transformed a humble toy into an instrument capable of artistic expression, prompting critics to acknowledge her as the world’s first toy piano virtuoso who has inspired composers to create a distinctive repertoire for a new instrument.

In an afternoon laced with humour and history, the audience will be treated to music made on toy pianos and other toys, such as bicycle bells and a hand-cranked music box. Who would have thought toys had such potential? Leng Tan treats them as real instruments in keeping with the French Dada artist Marcel Duchamp’s statement, “poor tools require better skills.” She also fulfills her mentor John Cage’s long-standing conviction that one can make music on just about any object capable of producing sound.

In 2015, Tan celebrated her 70th birthday with the birth of a new work Curios, written for her by American composer Phyllis Chen for toy piano and toy instruments, celebrating the bizarre world of the circus. The work received its world premiere at the Singapore International Festival of Arts and toured the Brisbane Festival. She also received the Cultural Medallion in 2015, Singapore’s highest accolade for artists.



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