Margaret Leng Tan – Piano
Phyllis Chen, Adam Tendler, Tristan McKay – Toy Piano
Alexa Dexa – Toy Instruments
Automotoy showcases a variety of works incorporating mechanical musical instruments with live performers, as well as John Cage‘s Music for Amplified Toy Pianos.
Originally founded in 2007 by pianist and composer Phyllis Chen, the UnCaged Toy Piano is a composition competition designed to expand the music for toy piano. The instrument has gained interest by performers, composers and artists from a large variety of artistic backgrounds. Given the large number of submissions received through the years, UnCaged Toy Piano has since become a biennial festival hosting three different events in New York City in December. The festival premieres many of these new works and curates a three-day event, showcasing other artists, performers and makers who are using toys and toy pianos in new music.
Invented in 1872, the toy piano was mostly considered an educational toy for children, until John Cage’s seminal work, Suite For Toy Piano (1947) single-handedly turned the toy piano into a concert instrument. In recent decades, a growing number of musicians and audience members have embraced this instrument for its fresh, unassuming yet quirky quality. With time, the UnCaged Toy Piano hopes to develop idiomatic repertoire for the instrument such that it becomes its own artistic entity, giving attention to a relatively unknown instrument with a unique sound and voice.