Playing a dynamic role in the Canadian music scene, Lan Tung is an erhu performer, vocalist, composer, producer, and artistic director. Originally from Taiwan, she draws inspiration from her background in Chinese music; however, an intensive interest in music outside her tradition has been a major drive in her artistic explorations. Her influences range from contemporary music, creative improvisation, to various ethnic styles, such as Indian, Flamenco, Uyghur, Mongolian, and Middle Eastern.
Lan leads the JUNO nominated Orchid Ensemble, Sound of Dragon Ensemble, Proliferasian, Vancouver Erhu Quartet, Have Bow Will Travel, Birds of Paradox, and co-leads Naadaleela with Curtis Andrews. She is the founder and artistic director of the Sound of Dragon Music Festival, and she performs with NOW Orchestra, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Lalun, and Tandava. She has collaborated with Wen Wei Dance, Aeriosa Dance, Chimerik, Oktoécho, TomoeArts, Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre, Pangaea Arts…, among many other projects. Lan has toured in North America, Europe and Asia, collaborating with composers, musicians, dancers, visual and media artists of various cultural backgrounds. She was a featured artist at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and Festival International De Musique Actuel in Victoriaville, QC.
Since moving to Canada in 1994, Lan has appeared as a soloist with Orchestre Metropolitain (Montreal) and Symphony Nova Scotia, and as a soloist/composer with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Turning Point Ensemble, Upstream Ensemble (Halifax), Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (Vancouver & Toronto), Atlas Ensemble (Amsterdam & Helsinki), and Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan & China).
Lan has premiered numerous contemporary compositions, including chamber, solo, orchestral and electroacoustic works, by Canadian composers Tim Brady, John Oliver, Hope Lee, Moshe Denburg, Mark Armanini, Jin Zhang, Janet Danielson, Barry Truax, Dorothy Chang, Steve Chatman, Rui Shi Zhuo, Neil Weisensel, Paul Plimley, Yawen Wang, Farshid Samandari, Michael Vincent, Nova Pon, and Grace Lee.
Her fascination for creative improvisation has driven her to perform with 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. Lan has traveled to Switzerland to study graphic scores and improvisation with Barry Guy and to Amsterdam to study and perform with improviser and contemporary violinist Mary Oliver. During her travels in Europe, she also improvised and/or performed with Magpie Improvised Music & Dance Company, Xu Fengxia, Shangyin Trio, Michael Moore, Wu Wei, Wilbert de Joode, Ig Henneman, Ab Baars, Anne La Berge, Naomi Sato, and Hui Chun Lin. She has collaborated with Xu Fengxia and Min Xiaofen at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Lan has attended 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. In 2012, Lan formed Proliferasian to perform her compositions for improvisers, including JP Carter (trumpet & electronics), Kevin Romanin (drums) and Colin Cowan (bass).
In 2011, the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra commissioned Lan to compose erhu concerto Peony Dreams for solo improviser and the orchestra. In Dec 2011, Lan performed as the soloist with the orchestra, giving the world premiere of Peony Dreams and the Taiwanese premiere of her 2009 work Ba Ban Variations at the National Concert Hall in Taipei.
Lan is active in a number of cross-cultural projects. She has studied with Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath in Bombay in 2004 & 2006. In 2005, she studied with Egyptian violinist Dr. Alfred Gamil in Cairo, where she also joined qanoun player Hossan Shaker and his band Rahala in concerts. In 2012, she studied Uyghur music with Abdukerim Osman in northwestern China. In 2017 and 2018, she traveled to Inner Mongolia in northeastern China to study Mongolian Horsehead fiddle with Bayar. In Canada, she has collaborated with Persian santur player Alan Kushan, Carnatic percussionist Curtis Andrews, Persian ney player Amir Eslami, Hindustani sitar player James Hamilton, Carnatic singer Vidyasagar Vankayala, Vietnamese group Khac Chi Ensemble, Montreal world music ensemble Oktoécho, Klezmer woodwind player Mike Braverman, African drummer Mandido Morris, Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre, Uzume Taiko, and Celtic band Mad Pudding. She has appeared on festival stages as a guest with the Tuvan ensemble Huun Hurr Tu, UK’s premiere Afro/World Music band Baka Beyond, and Canadian legend Bill Bourne.
Lan performs with the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and was serving as its vice president for a number of years. 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. 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 concerts, inter-disciplinary productions, and tours across North America. 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 more than thirty five 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 performs internationally at music festivals, community concerts, school demonstrations, lectures, and university/college residencies. Past appearances included the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Taiwan’s National Concert Hall, Singapore’s Esplanade – Theatre on the Bay, and in the US the Kennedy Center for the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, Detroit Institute of the Arts, Bena Roya Hall for the Seattle Symphony Society. National performances included Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, 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.
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.
- Atlas Academy, as a composer & performer, Amsterdam, 2012 & 2014
- Montreal Contemporary Music Lab, as a composer & performer, 2012
- 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
- Mongolian horsehead fiddle with Bayar
- Uyghur music with Abdukerim Osman, Urumqi, China, Nov-Dec, 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)
- “Gather Our Dispersed From the Ends of the Earth”, tribute for composer Moshe Denburg – Orchid Ensemble, 2019
- Sound of Dragon Ensemble & Melody of China, 2019
- “Crossing Mountains & Seas” – Orchid Ensemble with Aeriosa Dance, Sammy Chien, Chengxin Wei, 2019
- “Consensus” – Sound of Dragon Ensemble with Dong Mei (dance), 2017
- “Music of the Heaven” – Orchid Ensemble with Flicker Arts Collaboratory, John Oliver and Stefan Smulovitz, 2015
- “Fire & Water” – Orchid Ensemble concert, 2015
- Sound of Dragon Music Festival, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021 (Digital)
- “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 (erhu, China), 2004 (Hindustani music with Kala Ramnath, India), 2008 (graphic notation with Barry Guy, Europe), 2017 (Horsehead fiddle, Inner Mongolia)
- BC Arts Council Career Development Grants 1999 (erhu with Jiebing Chen, San Francisco), 2007 (improvisation with Mary Oliver, Amsterdam), 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
- “From A Dream” (2018) – winner of the International Independent Music Awards (Eclectic Song), nominee of the Independent Music Awards (Eclectic Album, Instrumental Song, Producer in Instrumental Music), and Western Canadian Music Awards (Global Artist of the Year)
- “Life Death Tears Dream” (2012) – winner of International Independent Music Awards (Eclectic Song), nominee of Western Canadian Music Awards, and Canadian Folk Music Awards (Pushing the Boundaries), and Independent Music Awards (Traditional World Album).
- “Birds of Paradox” (2010), trio of Ron Samworth, Lan Tung, and Neelamjit Dhillon, nominated for Instrumental Music of the Year, Western Canadian Music Awards
- “Dances & Dreams” (2007), special gift for all BC newborns, CBC Radio Production
- “Tandava” (2005) – nominee of International Independent Music Awards, Canadian Independent Music Awards, and Canadian Folk Music Awards
- “Road to Kashgar” (2004) – nominated for World Album of the Year, JUNO Awards & Outstanding Instrumental Music,Western Canadian Music Awards
- “Heartland” (2000) – nominated for Best World Music & Best Instrumental Music, West Coast Music Awards