RTV: Jen Shyu

Release Date: Friday, October 10, 2014

Jen Shyu’s performance of Solo Rites – sonic, visual, and visceral rites and reflections upon pilgrimage throughout Taiwan, East Timor, Indonesia (Java, Bali, Bandung, Kalimantan), Vietnam, and South Korea.

Using multiple tools of expression in multiple languages (new improvised languages as well as existing ones including Indonesian, Javanese, Taiwanese, indigenous Taiwanese languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Tetum, Korean), this solo performance—that of a woman living simultaneously in multiple cultures and “projecting her ancestry” (Val-Inc) through contemporary monologue—reveals a personal journey of loss and redemption made universal, giving voice to the silenced. These losses reflect crises now plaguing these lands: the loss of voices found in traditional music and shaman rituals; the loss of habitat and wildlife and thus the linked ancient cosmology; and finally, the loss of public space, such as the submission of traditional markets and forests to malls and coal mines. These issues are explored through sound, movement, and fieldwork footage, creating a land-sound-scape which serves to transport and transform both the performer and audience, leading to the shared revelation and recovery from past sorrow. Garin Nugroho, directing Shyu’s solo ritual, reveals his distinctive vision for celebrating the bond between tradition and modernity.

Jen Shyu: Composition, Vocals, Dance, Taiwanese Moon Lute, Piano, Gayageum, Er Hu, East Timorese Lakadou
Garin Nugroho: Director
Danang Pamungkas: Choreographer
Alyssa K. Howard: Stage Manager
Kristen Robinson: Set & Props Designer
Solomon Weisbard: Lighting Designer
Kristin Isola: Costume Designer


Jen Shyu is a groundbreaking, multi-lingual vocalist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, and 2016 Doris Duke Artist. Born in Peoria, Illinois, to Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrant parents, Shyu is widely regarded for her virtuosic singing and riveting stage presence, carving out her own beyond-category space in the art world. She has performed with saxophonist and 2014 MacArthur Fellow Steve Coleman since 2003 and has collaborated with such musical innovators as Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Bobby Previte, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek and David Binney. Shyu has performed her own music on prestigious world stages such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Gugak Center, National Theater of Korea and at festivals worldwide.