8pm Thursday 9 November, Reginald Theatre (Seymour Centre)

“Her voice, a wonder of technical control and unrestrained emotion, tells a story dotted with well-researched facts and wild poetic allusions. She claims both as her truths.” – Wall Street Journal




Jen Shyu is “a new kind of improviser-composer-ethnomusicologist hybrid”: groundbreaking multilingual vocalist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, 2016 Doris Duke Artist, and 2017 Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star Female Vocalist.

At this year’s festival, she performs new work Song of Silver Geese, a ritual drama in which spirit helpers from folklore and mythology help a newly orphaned child through the moment of crisis, when she is alone waiting for help.

Song of Silver Geese was composed as an offering to the spirits of two dear friends who passed away. One, a Javanese shadow puppeteer, was killed in a car crash with his wife and small baby – leaving his six-year-old daughter Nala unharmed and the sole survivor of their family.

In Song of Silver Geese, Jen imagines Nala encountering strong spiritual guides in the moment after the impact of the accident, when she is alone waiting for help.

These spiritual guides, who you will meet in her festival performance (Nov 9), include the princess Baridegi from Korean folklore, who became the first shaman by resurrecting her dead father who, as king, abandoned her for being born a girl like her six sisters before.

Another guide she encounters is Ho’ar Nahak Samane Oan, a young warrior from a Timorese Wehali Kingdom myth, who disguises herself as a man and journeys to rescue her six brothers enslaved by a rival king.

Born in Illinois, USA to Taiwanese and East Timorese parents, Jen has performed her own uncategorisable art music on prestigious world stages such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Blue Note, National Theater of Korea and festivals worldwide.

She has performed with 2014 MacArthur Fellow saxophonist Steve Coleman since 2003 and collaborated with Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer and Bobby Previte. A Stanford University graduate in opera with classical violin and ballet training, Jen has studied traditional music and dance in Cuba, Taiwan, Brazil, China,South Korea, East Timor and Indonesia.

Currently based in New York City, Jen has produced six albums as a leader and will release her seventh, Song of Silver Geese, this November.

JEN SHYU composition, vocals, dance, Taiwanese moon lute (月琴), piano, gayageum (古箏), soribuk, violin VERONIQUE SERRET violin JAMES SHIPP vibraphone SIMON BARKER drums