Research Alive | Cuteness speaks up to cynicism: Recreating Japanese animation music in North America

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 17:00to19:00
Elizabeth Wirth Music Building Tanna Schulich Hall, 527 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 1E3, CA
Free Admission

This event be webcast on our YouTube channel: bit.ly/SchulichWebcasts

Tong Wang, piano, Finalist of the 2021-2022 Research Alive Student Prize
Annette Tsang, piano

About the presentation

Cuteness has swept across our world by storm. And it both attracts and repels. While cuteness can elicit warm fuzzy feelings, it can also provoke ugly or aggressive ones.  More than just sweet, cuddly, and charming, cuteness has become fused with the uncanny, grotesque, and monstrous - often in a frivolous and subversive way. But: there is still hope for the innocent. Alongside our world of irony and cynicism, there is a place for magic, simplicity, and sincerity – the parallel universe of Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away. These deeply cherished animations are pure, earnest, and irresistibility cute. Likewise, their music wield the power of cute to open our hearts to vulnerability and tenderness. My research will use composer Joe Hisaishi’s film scores to investigate the musical recipe to cuteness. How does cuteness become the sound of empathy? And how can we find hope, innocence, and vulnerability within the cynic?

About the artists

Canadian pianist, writer, and interdisciplinary artist Tong Wang explores a variety of genres and mediums to bring new, creative initiatives to the community. As a soloist, Tong has performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Red Deer Symphony Orchestra. She is the recipient of awards including the International Chopin Golden Ring, the Canadian Music Competition, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal of Performing Arts, and the Canada Graduate Scholarship. Among her projects are the performance tours “Once Upon a Pumpkin”, “Song of Praise”, “Crossview”, and “Ghiblilane”, musicology research on the aesthetic of “cuteness” in animation, kawaii metal, lo-fi, and classical music, and various social entrepreneurship initiatives. As Co-Executive Director of the arts initiative, “Zenkora Studios”, she has led artists across North America to produce multimedia orchestra concerts that illustrate the stories of an original fantasy universe. Tong is a member of the TAG Duo, UTAU2, Lincoln Center Stage, and the Global Leaders Cohort. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance from the New England Conservatory and the McGill University, where she is currently a Doctorate Fellow. As a winner of the Nordic Strings Academy "China Tours" International Competition, Tong will perform her solo recital program "Homecoming" across China. Tong is the recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and Fonds de Recherche du Québec for the creation of a new multi-genre operetta, “Labyrinth of Tears”.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Annette Tsang has been actively pursuing her studies in piano performance throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Her playing is often described with “good melodic sense and sound” where she aims to reflects her passion and love for music through her playing. She began her piano lesson at the age of four and was later accepted into the pre-college program of Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität in Linz, Austria, where she studied with Dr. Margit Haider-Dechant. Currently, she is residing in Montreal, Canada and has recently completed her piano performance undergraduate degree at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, under the tutelage of Marina Mdivani. During her undergraduate studies, she was chosen as the recipients of several scholarships and awards including the Anna Paull Gertler Scholarship, Sara Berlind Memorial Scholarship and Paul-Marcel Gélinas et Vema-Marie Parr Gélinas Piano Award for her outstanding performance and academic standing. In addition, she is also an aspiring music educator where she pursued a Music Education minor during her degree. In order to put her knowledge in practise, she is actively involved in a lot of education related community opportunities such as music instructor of the “Little Musicians” program at the McGill Conservatory, giving private piano lessons at the West Island Conservatory of Music and participating in NGO organisations such as the Montreal Heart of the City that aims to provide instrumental lessons for underprivileged children in Montreal.

Help keep our community safe

Procedural masks must be worn at all times in Schulich buildings and concert halls, including during the performance. Masks will be available upon entrance to the Elizabeth Wirth and Strathcona Music Buildings.

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