Margaret Leng Tan

Margaret Leng Tan has established herself as a major force in the American avant-garde. Ms. Tan, whose work embraces theater, choreography, performance, has been called “the diva of avant-garde pianism” by The New Yorker. She is renowned as a pre-eminent John Cage interpreter (her mentor of eleven years) and for her performances of American and Asian music that transcend the piano’s conventional boundaries.

Margaret Leng Tan has been hailed as “the queen of the toy piano” (The New York Times) and “the toy piano’s Rubenstein” (The Independent, UK). This year she celebrates her 20th anniversary as a pioneer of the toy piano. After discovering Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano in 1993, Ms. Tan became fascinated with the artistic potential of the toy piano and more recently, with other toy instruments as well. In her groundbreaking 1997 CD, The Art of the Toy Piano (Philips/Universal), she elevated a humble toy to the status of a real instrument. Critics acknowledge her as the world’s first toy piano virtuoso who has inspired composers to create a unique repertoire for a new instrument. Ms. Tan’s diminutive music-theater of nostalgia and humor has delighted audiences at festivals around the world. Her last toy album, SHE HERSELF ALONE: The Art of the Toy Piano 2, was released as a Mode Records CD and DVD (mode 221) to critical acclaim. It was awarded the Diapason d’Or from the French Diapason magazine in 2011. Cablevision’s Tan toy piano feature won the 2011 Bronze Telly Award.

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Evans Chan’s 2004 documentary, Sorceress of the New Piano: The Artistry of Margaret Leng Tan, was nominated for “Best Music Documentary” at the American Film Institute/Discovery Channel’s SilverDocs. Sorceress was named “Best Contemporary Music Film” by Spain’s CD Compact magazine in 2010. Sorceress and Chan’s The Maverick Piano which features live performances by Tan, are available as a Mode Records DVD (mode 194).

In 2011 Tan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by the State University of New York. She was inducted into the inaugural Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015 Ms. Tan was awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest cultural accolade.

During the 2015-16 season she will celebrate her 70th birthday on the international festival circuit with Cabinet of Curiosities, a program of music/theater works including Curios by Phyllis Chen, commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of Arts.

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…the queen of the toy piano.

The New York Times

Tan is the toy piano’s Rubenstein, coaxing an immensity of feeling from a limited tonal range.

The Independent, UK

...a Singaporean national treasure.

TODAY, Singapore

Margaret Leng Tan is a keyboard virtuoso like no other...she makes it [the toy piano] into an astonishing musical vehicle...with her customary flair she turned toys into art.

San Francisco Chronicle

Upcoming Performances


28 Sep 2016

OzAsia Festival




Schroeder Hall
Green Music Center
Sonoma State University
Sunday, May 1, 3pm

TOY PIANO workshop

New York University
Thursday, April 14, 8pm
Provincetown Playhouse

Residency at University of Maryland, College Park:

3800 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
University of Maryland
Wedneday, April 13, 11am


Tuesday, April 12, 8pm


Monday, April 11, 7.30pm

7 May 2017
East Building Auditorium
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

9 June 2017
Holland Festival
Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam
The Netherlands

22 October 2017
Donaueschinger Musiktage
Museum Art Plus, Donaueschingen