Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep

Till this day I count the number of steps when climbing a flight of stairs or the number of times I rinse after brushing my teeth. These counting rituals permeating my daily life serve no particular purpose other than to satisfy the need to perform them. That is the nature of O.C.D. Enter music and rhythm: you can imagine how delighted I was to be actually required to count the beats in a piece of music. I could now count to my heart’s content …

‘Music of the Unquiet Mind’ by Margaret Leng Tan (New York Times)

Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep is based on the life and work of renowned pianist Margaret Leng Tan, a leading figure in experimental music. Born in Singapore, Tan was the first woman to earn a doctorate from Juilliard, but a desire to explore the crosscurrents between Asian music and that of the West led her to John Cage. This sparked an active collaboration between Cage and Tan that lasted from 1981 to his death, during which Tan gained recognition as one of the pre-eminent interpreters of his music. This in turn inspired her adventure into the new sonic world of toy pianos. Margaret Leng Tan is a phenomenal performer who at the age of seventy-three appears to be at the height of her powers and shows no sign of slowing down.

Drawing from her personal and professional history, Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep fuses music, text, performance and image to create a portrait of this singular artist, the forces that drive her, and the ways in which music has been both her passion and her refuge. Margaret is joined by composer and long-time collaborator Erik Griswold, together with director Tamara Saulwick and dramaturg Kok Heng Leun in the creation of this entirely new work.


Musician / Performer: Margaret Leng Tan
Composer: Erik Griswold
Director: Tamara Saulwick
Dramaturg: Kok Heng Leun

This project is a co-production with Chamber Made (Melbourne) and is supported by the National Arts Council, Playking Foundation (Australia) and the Australian Government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Cultural Diplomacy Arts Fund.

Photo credit: Jim Standard

11 - 23 March 2019
Creative Development
Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne


1 - 7 September 2018
Creative Development