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Concert review: Toy piano meets theatre in Margaret Leng Tan's beguiling recital

Published on Aug 17, 2014 10:13 AM

From the legendary Singaporean artist Margaret Leng Tan, one should only expect the unexpected.

The Juilliard-trained classical pianist (one remembers her in a Mozart piano concerto with the Singapore Symphony in 1981) has over the decades styled herself as the "high priestess of the avant-garde" (John Cage's silent 4"33" being a speciality) and now the "queen of the toy piano".

She has this field to her own, and how she commands it. The second of two recitals at the Singapore International Festival of the Arts on Saturday was a free and non-ticketed event, devoted wholly to music for the toy piano. Almost single-handedly she has turned child's play into a serious art form, and here were the fruits of her labour.

The hour-long event at 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road opened as a one-woman procession with toy cymbals, Tan making her way to the stage like an Energiser bunny in John Kennedy's Fanfare from The Winged Energy Of Delight. Then she settled in front of her upright Schoenhut toy piano, accessorised with other implements that were "blu-tacked" on its top.

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