"[I]t was a very special evening: sincere, unpretentious, inclusive, inspired and inspiring...[The] juxtaposition of Chinese and Western idioms and cultures was simply brilliant in its delivery." - David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at Royal Opera House
Tangram is a London-based artist collective creating new music to open up spaces beyond the China-West dichotomy.
Made up of a mix of composers and performers of Chinese and western instruments, the group launched in 2019 as recipients of the Chinese Arts Now Artist Development Bursary 2019 and winners of Nonclassical's Battle of the Bands 2019. They have worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and Silk Road Ensemble, and most recently, have been appointed Associate Ensemble at SOAS for 2019/2020.
Tangram's compositions and performances delve into the richness and multiplicity of transnational Chinese experience, encouraging audiences to engage in nuanced cultural exchange and deep listening across perceived borders. Through the emotional languages of music, they hope to transcend the pervasive assumption that China and the West are mutually exclusive entities, in favour of imagining more interconnected futures.
New music forms a large part of Tangram's work as a way to expand the contemporary classical music space to include non-Eurocentric cultures. Highlights of 2019/2020 include premieres by Raymond Yiu, Sun Keting, Jasmin Rodgman, a track release on Nonclassical's EP, 'Outside the Lines', as well as the premiere of Alex Ho's new operatic stagework as part of Sound and Music's 'New Voices' talent development scheme with support from Arts Council England, Help Musicians UK, and Snape Maltings.
"The integrity of the music is remarkable - daring to explore a completely new amalgam of sounds in a variety of forms, sometimes complex and challenging, sometimes direct and simple in effect. The range of musical outcomes was extraordinary." - Alison Moncrieff-Kelly, Director of Classical Music at The Rye Arts Festival
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.
"[Alex Ho's new stagework,] 'Untold' was a very special event. I felt like I was watching both an ancient form of performance whilst at the same time witnessing an entirely new form of music theatre emerge. I loved it." - Michael McCarthy MBE, Artistic Director of Music Theatre Wales