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Jen Shyu


Wed Oct 17
Colloquium Series
Jen Shyu (Independent artist, vocalist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer)

“Nine Doors: Life Has No Boundaries — Projecting Tradition into the Future & the Creative Voice Within”
Shyu will speak about moving from fieldwork research through the creative and compositional process and her journey as an artist, giving some ideas and inspiration on how musicians can integrate all their interests, talents, and passions into their own unique expression outside of any categories.
10:00 am, Room 400B
4th floor, Music Building

Note: the colloquium will occur on Wednesday rather than Friday this week.


Jen Shyu ("Shyu" pronounced "Shoe" in English, Chinese name: 徐秋雁, Pinyin: Xúqiūyàn) is a groundbreaking, multilingual vocalist, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, 2016 Doris Duke Artist, and was voted 2017 Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Star Female Vocalist. 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 Nicole Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Vijay Iyer, Bobby Previte, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek and David Binney.

A Stanford University graduate in opera with classical violin and ballet training, Shyu has also studied traditional music and dance in Cuba, Taiwan, Brazil, China, South Korea, East Timor and Indonesia, conducting extensive research which culminated in her 2014 stage production Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, directed by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho.

Shyu has produced seven albums as a leader, including the first female-led and vocalist-led album released by Pi Recordings, Synastry (Pi 2011), with co-bandleader and bassist Mark Dresser. Her critically acclaimed Sounds and Cries of the World (Pi 2015) landed on many best-of-2015 lists, including those of The New York Times, The Nation, and NPR. Her latest album Song of Silver Geese (Pi 2017) is receiving rave reviews and was also included on The New York Times’ Best Albums of 2017.

Her current instruments in performance include piano, violin, Taiwanese moon lute (2 strings), Chinese er hu (2 strings), Japanese biwa (4 strings), Korean gayageum (12 strings), Korean soribuk (drum), and Korean gong called "ggwaenggwari."