Performing Asia: From Taiwan's Hengchun Township to the Stage
“Shyu is a remarkable phenomenon, shifting registers with startling ease and tonal resourcefulness…” (The Guardian)
“…among New York’s most invigorating vocal presences. And perhaps the most enigmatic.” (The Wall Street Journal)
With “songs that could remind you of ancient court music or Joni Mitchell” (NY Times), international multi-artist Jen Shyu returns to Asia Society to give a stunning contemporary performance that captures the spirit of traditional Taiwanese music and poetry.
Inspired by legendary Taiwanese folk singer, storyteller, and Taiwanese moon lute virtuoso Chen Da, Shyu sings and plays traditional folk songs from Taiwan’s Hengchun township as well as her own inventive arrangements. She will also premiere her new compositions to selected poems by her mentor, the late Taiwanese poet Edward Teh-Chang Cheng, revealing a land-sound-scape which will serve to transport and transform both performer and audience. Taiwanese American visual artist Yu Ru Huang will create the set artwork and design.
About Jen Shyu
Born from Taiwanese and East Timorese parents, 2014 Doris Duke Impact Awardee Jen Shyu is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, and Fulbright scholar. Having sung with MacArthur Genius Fellow and saxophonist Steve Coleman and many others, she has produced six albums and has performed at Carnegie Hall (2016), Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Theater of Korea, and beyond. After Shyu spent six years researching folk and indigenous music in Taiwan, the Mayor of Hengchun, Ming-shun Ye, appointed her as the “First Hengchun Folksong Ambassador” in 2009. A Stanford University graduate, she has also studied traditional music and dance in Cuba, Brazil, China, Korea, East Timor, and Indonesia, which last year culminated into Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, directed by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho. She is currently performing this solo work as well as with her ensemble Jade Tongue in the US and abroad. Tonight also celebrates the Houston release of Shyu’s latest album on the groundbreaking label Pi Recordings, called Sounds and Cries of the World, which features one of Edward Cheng’s poems.
Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of performing arts and cultural programs, with generous support from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, the Hearst Foundations, and Mickey Rosenau & Dr. Ellen Gritz. This performance is part of Asia Society’s Spotlight Taiwan series, which is funded in part by a grant from the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan) and special patron Dr. Samuel Yin. Lead support is provided by the Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, The Clayton Fund, and the Favrot Fund. Support is also provided by Friends of Performing Arts & Culture, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming to Houston.