Tangram is a London-based artist collective creating new music to open up spaces beyond the China-West dichotomy.
Our compositions and performances primarily explore the richness and multiplicity of transnational Chinese experience, encouraging audiences to engage in palpable cultural exchange and nuanced listening across perceived borders. Through the emotional languages of music, we help audiences transcend the pervasive assumption that China and the West are mutually exclusive entities, in favour of imagining more integrative futures. By creating and curating music of the highest standard, we demonstrate to listeners that a sensitive synthesis of Chinese and Western cultures is not only possible, but can be beautiful.
Our projects begin with reflections on personal experiences and extend to broader considerations of the complexities of cross-cultural life. We work primarily in three ways: reinterpreting traditional repertoire, presenting contemporary work by Chinese composers, and exploring new soundscapes on Chinese instruments. We eagerly collaborate with artists from all backgrounds, with a view toward introducing Chinese instruments to new creative fields. We are also actively working to expand the classical music world by bringing in more non-Eurocentric sounds, voices, and listeners.
Alex Ho and Reylon Yount first collaborated in 2018 on a new piece for solo yangqin, Rituals and Resonances.
The piece reflects on shared experiences of our diasporic identities, and on what creating and performing a piece of new music on the yangqin meant for us at that time. The process was hugely generative and we felt there was more in the collaboration than could be expressed in a single piece. We worked on several further projects in the next few months including a yangqin concerto for the Cambridge University Chinese Orchestra and a yangqin-guitar duo for Syracuse University as well as recording Rituals and Resonancesat Abbey Road Studios later that year.
Through these projects and through numerous badminton sessions, the idea to form an artist collective dedicated to Chinese diasporic culture emerged. We had met several outstanding artists who shared our vision for a wider musical space that included more music influenced by non-Eurocentric traditions, and so in January 2019, Tangram launched at LSO St. Luke's as part of Chinese Arts Now Festival.