photo by Nenad Stevanovic
Playing a dynamic role in the Canadian music scene, Lan Tung is an erhu performer, composer, producer, and administrator. Originally from Taiwan, she incorporates Chinese music with contemporary expressions in her works. At the same time, an intensive interest in music outside her tradition has been a major drive in her artistic explorations. Lan is the leader of the JUNO nominated Orchid Ensemble, and she performs with Birds of Paradox, Tandava, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre..., among many other projects. She has toured extensively in North America, working with composers, musicians, dancers, visual and media artists of various cultural backgrounds.
Since moving to Canada in 1994, Lan has premiered numerous contemporary compositions, including chamber, solo, orchestral and electro-acoustic works, by Canadian composers John Oliver, Hope Lee, Moshe Denburg, Mark Armanini, Jin Zhang, Janet Danielson, Barry Truax, Dorothy Chang, Rui Shi Zhuo, Neil Weisensel, Paul Plimley, Yawen V. Wang, Farshid Samandari, Michael Vincent, and Grace Lee. Lan has given performances of Mark Armanini's erhu concerto Heartland: with Symphony Nova Scotia in 2010 and with Orchestre Métropolitain in 2012.
In 2011, Lan was commissioned by the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra to compose a new erhu concerto Peony Dreams, incorporating improvisation for the soloist and members of the orchestra. In Dec 2011, Lan traveled to Taiwan to perform as the soloist with the orchestra, giving the world premiere of Peony Dreams and the Taiwan premiere of her 2009 work Ba Ban Variations at the National Concert Hall in Taipei.
Lan Tung in rehearsal with Symphony Nova Scotia, conducted by Bernhard Gueller
Her fascination for creative improvisation has driven her to perform with a number of Vancouver’s most innovative improvisers. In 2007, she formed the trio Birds of Paradox with Ron Samworth and Neelamjit Dhillon to explore the fusion of composition and improvisation. With the support of the BC Arts Council, Lan has traveled to Switzerland to study graphic scores and improvisation with Barry Guy in 2009, to Amsterdam to study and perform with improviser and contemporary violinist Mary Oliver. During her travles in Europe, she also improvised and/or performed with Magpie Music & Dance Company, Xu Feng Xia,...etc. Lan has been participating at the Vancouver Creative Music Institute (2007-2009), where she has studied and performed with Francois Houle and Paul Plimley (Canada), Han Bennink (Holland), John Butcher, Evan Parker and Barry Guy (UK)…etc.
Lan with Huun Huur Tu (Tuva), Ottawa Bluesfest. photo: Peter Weiser
Lan is active in a number of cross-cultural projects. In Egypt, she joined qanoun player Hossan Shaker and Rahala in concerts. In Canada, she has collaborated with Persian santur player Alan Kushan, Hindustani sitarist James Hamilton, Carnatic singer Vidyasagar Vankayala, Vietnamese group Khac Chi Ensemble, Klezmer woodwind player Mike Braverman, African drummer Mandido Morris, Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre, Uzume Taiko, & Celtic band Mad Pudding. She has appeared on festival stages with Tuvan ensemble Huun Hurr Tu, UK’s premiere Afro/Celtic band Baka Beyond, and Canadian folk legend Bill Bourne.
Lan performs with the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and currently serves as its vice president. Since 2003, Lan has been performing with Tandava, whose 2005 self-titled debut CD was included on Global Rhythm Magzine's CD Sampler, reaching over 120,000 readers. To further expand the horizon on the erhu, Lan has studied with Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath in Bombay in 2004 and 2006, with Egyptian violinist Dr. Alfred Gamil in Cairo in 2005, and with Uyghur fiddle virtuoso Abdukerim Osman in Urumqi, northwestern China. As the winner of BC Festival of the Arts' Award of Excellence, Lan's role in music is directly related to the rich cultural diversity in Vancouver.
In 1997, Lan founded the Orchid Ensemble, with which she acts as the artistic director, producing annual concerts, supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council. With a unique instrumentation of the erhu, zheng and percussion, including the western concert marimba, the ensemble combines traditions from China and beyond, creating a distinct new sound. Lan's fresh visions have taken the ensemble to collaborate with composers, musicians, dancers, media artists, and calligraphers from different cultures in innovative programming.
As a composer, the various influences come together in Lan’s works. She uses traditional melodies as bridges to connect between Asian and western ears. She experiments with contradictions by taking culturally specific materials outside their context and fusing them with other genres. Incorporating improvisation with Chinese tradition, she explores new territory to discover fresh sounds on traditional instruments.
Lan has been playing the erhu for thirty years. In Taiwan, she received her training under Chen-Ming Huang (founder of the Chai Found Music Workshop), Su-Feng Chen (concert master of Taipei Municipal Chinese Orchestra), and then with Chun-Tung Lee when she entered the Chinese Cultural University to major on the erhu. Lan has won numerous first prizes in national music competitions in Taiwan and was a member of the Taipei Chinese Youth Orchestra. Lan has also studied with Ng K. B. (China Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble) in Canada, American Chinese virtuoso Jebing Chen in the US, and the principal erhu player of the China Radio Orchestra Fun Ming Zhang in China.
Tung gives close to one hundred performances and presentations internationally every year, including music festivals, community concerts, school demonstrations, lectures, and university/college residencies. US appearances included Kennedy Center for the Arts and the Smithsonian Institution, Detroit Institute of the Arts and at Bena Roya Hall for the Seattle Symphony Society. National performances included Ottawa’s Canada Day Celebrations, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto Street Fest, The Music Gallery, Royal Conservatory of Music, Vancouver Jazz, Folk and Children’s festivals, National Arts Gallery, National Library, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa Bluefest, Halifax’s JazzEast, Sunfest, Montreal’s Centre Pierre Peladeau and Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur.
Lan at 2005 JUNO Awards, Winnipeg, Canada
In 1999, Lan received a special award from the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society for facilitating cultural exchanges in Canada through music. Lan founded the first Chinese Music program for young people in 1998, and she teaches in both English and Chinese.
- Music & Dance Improvisation, Katie Duck workshop, Amsterdam 2009
- Vancouver Creative Music Institute, 2007, 2008, 2009
- Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy, 2005-
- Bachelor of Music Therapy, Capilano College, 1997-2000
- Music Transfer Program, Capilano College, 1995-1997
- Chinese Music Program, School of Music, Chinese Cultural University, Taiwan, 1992-1994
- Uyghur music - with prof. Abdukerim Osman in Urumqi, northwestern China, 2012
- Graphic scores & improvisation - with composer/bassist Barry Guy in Switzerland, 2009
- Improvisation - with violinist Mary Oliver in Amsterdam, NL, 2008
- Hindustani classical music - with violinist Kala Ramnath in Bombay, India and California, US, since Dec 2004;
- Egyptian music & maqam - with violinist Dr. Alfred Gamil in Cairo, Egypt, 2005
Erhu studies –
- with Zhang Fun Min, Beijing, China, 2002
- with Jebing Chen, San Francisco, USA, 1999
- with Ng K-B, Vancouver, Canada, 1994-1996
- with Lee Chun Tung, Chinese Cultural University, 1992-1993
- with Chen Su-Feng, Taipei, Taiwan, 1990-1992
- with Chen-Ming Huang, Taipei, Taiwan, 1989-1990
Vocal studies –
- with Joseph Shore, 2004
- at Capilano College,1994-1996
- with Gou Yue Zhu, 1986-1988
Productions (as a producer & performer)
- "Music of the Heaven" - Orchid Ensemble with Flicker Arts Collboratory, John Oliver and Stefan Smulovitz, 2013
- "Fire & Water" - Orchid Ensemble 15th anniversary concert, 2012
- "Gold Mountain Dream" - exploring the themes of diaspora and cultural conflict through interactive media arts, live music, spoken word, and backed by life-stories collected from numerous insightful interviews from different generations of Chinese Canadians. Orchid Ensemble with Flicker Arts Collaboratory (media artists Kenneth Newby and Aleksandra Dulic), 2011
- "Mountain High River Flow...without end" - featuring animated brush painting of China’s famous Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), 2011
- “Ten Thousand Miles to Kai-feng” – exploration of cultural exchange between Jews and Chinese, Orchid Ensemble with woodwind player Mike Braverman and percussionist Boris Sichon, 2009
- “Ghost Project” – multimedia celebration of Halloween, Orchid Ensemble with Flicker Arts Collaboratory, and Indonesian dancer/musician/composer Sutrisno Hartana, 2008
- “Triaspora” – Chinese Diaspora, Orchid Ensemble with Moving Dragon (Chinese contemporary dance) and Flicker Arts Collaboratory, 2007. Remounted at BC Scene, National Arts Centre, April 2009.
- “Multimedia – Road to Kashgar” – Orchid Ensemble with Flicker Arts Collaboratory, 2007.
- “Parting at Yang Kuan” – music and poetry, Orchid Ensemble with flautist Mark McGregor, Egret Choirs, and Flicker Arts Collaboratory, 2006.
- “Multimedia – Road to Kashgar” – Orchid Ensemble with media artist Donna Szoke, 2005
- “Contemporary Chinese New Year” – contemporary music for Chinese instruments, Orchid Ensemble 2004
- “Road to Kashgar” – Silk Road Project, Orchid Ensemble with Iranian santur player Alan Kushan, 2002
- In Concert, Orchid Ensemble & Uzume Taiko, co-produced with Bonnie Soon, 2001
- “Heartland” – Orchid Ensemble with African percussionist ManDido Morris and Jewish woodwind player Mike Braverman, 1999.
- "Lan Tung, Zhuo Wei Hong & Zheng Rui Ren recital" - Taipei, Taiwan, 1994
Awards & Competitions
- Canada Council Grants for Professional Musicians 2002 & 2004
- BC Arts Council Career Development Grants 1999, 2007 & 2008
- Special award from the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society for promoting Chinese music in Canada, and facilitating cultural exchange through music, 1999.
- Awards of Excellence, BC Festival of Arts, 2001.
- First Prize - Erhu solo competition of Taiwan 1991.
- First Prize - Erhu solo competition of Taipei 1991.
- First Prize - Erhu solo competition of Taipei 1990.
- Eric Hamber Secondary School, Vancouver, 2000
- Jamieson Elementary School, Vancouver, 1998-1999
- Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre, 1996
- Chinese Ensemble of Taipei Medical College, 1993-1994
- The Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University, 1993-1994
- Private teaching studio, since 1992
Ghost Project (Orchid Ensemble) 2008; photo: Nenad Stevanovic