SOAS has always been a hub for people from the broadest spectrum of backgrounds to forge new connections across cultural boundaries. This is why the university is the perfect home for Tangram, the rising artist collective envisioning a world beyond the China-West dichotomy, and this year’s Associate Ensemble at the SOAS Music Department.
Co-directed by SOAS alum Reylon Yount, Tangram creates and curates new music of the Chinese diaspora, as a method of challenging the widespread assumption that China and the West are mutually exclusive, in favour of imagining more interconnected futures.
In response to seemingly intractable political divisions between Chinese and Western polities, Tangram strives to open channels of communication that feel more human. They view their work as part of a wider movement of transnational East Asian artists whose lives and bodies of work evidence the dissolution of binary conceptions of “East and West” in a globalised world.
This year, Tangram will work with the SOAS Music Department under the guidance of Dr. Rachel Harris, to involve other transnational East Asian artist groups in a new initiative supported by the SOAS IKE Fund. Consisting of two events and a podcast, the project will initiate an interdisciplinary exploration around the experiences and professional trajectories of transnational East Asian performing artists: focusing on how these artists craft diasporic identities, and the politics of these efforts within the context of Eurocentric cultural systems and arts industries.
London is a hotbed of creative talent, and home to a burgeoning community of talented East Asian artists working in all disciplines. These events from Tangram and SOAS Music will serve as a platform for this community that will hopefully amplify the work of these artists and engender new conversations and connections.
The first event will be a unique concert and conversation called Lunar New Year Premieres at LSO St Luke’s on 25 January, featuring a programme of reimagined folk melodies and three new commissions from British-Chinese artists — tickets and details can be found here. The event opens with a panel discussion among featured composers Alex Ho and Jasmin Kent Rodgman, as well as Dr. Rachel Harris and ethnomusicologist Dr. Shzr Ee Tan, exploring different perspectives on how transnational East Asian artists translate aspects of diasporic experience through music. In a special instance of theory meeting practice, the dialogue will then lead into the concert itself, in which Tangram will perform the new commissions live.
In late April / early May, Tangram and the SOAS Music Department will organise a symposium day, bringing together the wider community of practitioners and academics working in this space, for a program that will alternate between creative performance and academic conversation. Please follow @tangramsound on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to stay up-to-date on this initiative.
Lunar New Year Premieres with Tangram: Concert and Conversation
Saturday, 25th January
LSO St. Luke’s, 161 Old St, London EC1V 9NG