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Chrysanthe TanLos Angeles, CA
If Andrew Bird, Imogen Heap, and Joni Mitchell had an awkward lovechild, then raised that child on Cambodian and Greek folk tunes, the resulting spawn would be 1. an absolute miracle of quantum physics, and 2. Chrysanthe musical kindred spirit.
Chrysanthe Tan (they/she) is an autistic, Cambodian-Greek-American composer, violinist, and singer-songwriter named by Arts Boston as 1 of 10 Contemporary LGBTQ Composers You Should Know in 2018. As a solo artist, she performs electroacoustic musical poetry and chamber folk-pop, and as a composer, their work indulges the intersection of music and spoken word. Chrysanthe’s fixation with verbal expression, text, and the implications of language stems from her lifelong challenges with verbal processing and idiomatic interpretation. Their work has been performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller Center, New Orleans Jazz Festival’s Rising Artist Series, US Embassy in Cambodia, ÆPEX Contemporary, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Syros Sound Meetings, and more.
As a violinist, Chrysanthe straddles the pop and experimental worlds: She’s toured the world as pop star Ariana Grande’s violinist and string transcriber, toured a couple continents with Paul Anka, recorded and performed with Halsey, Bastille, PJ Morton, Alicia Keys, Common, and more. Chrysanthe also performs in a violin-guitar duo called Duo Meranti, her longtime collaboration with guitarist-composer Sean Hayward that features contemporary and folk-oriented work from the Los Angeles and Balkan diasporas. Duo Meranti is working on their first album, consisting entirely of commissioned work from living composers.
Chrysanthe earned their BA in Creative Writing from Stanford University, MFA in Creative Writing from California Institute of the Arts, and MFA in Music Composition and Violin Performance from CalArts. A vocal advocate for autistic, queer, and minority representation in music, Chrysanthe is also a published writer, podcaster, Star Wars prequel apologist, and emerging host/producer with Classical KUSC radio station, where she helps to develop content for newer voices and audiences.
Between Stations. The feeling of perpetual transition. When you know you’re on a path of some sort but it’s unclear whether your individual decisions are rightly serving your greater purpose. When you can’t tell if you’re moving too fast or too slow, or if you need to switch trains entirely.
Instrumentation: piano, string trio, and field recording taken on the London tube in June 2015.
If You Lived In Your Body
When I told my therapist I was feeling ungrounded and dissociated, she offered the mantra “If you lived in your body, you’d be home.” I repeated this every day, and while it brought some comfort, it was not a perfect salve. I have never felt at home in my body, preferring to evict body from brain in order to ignore pain. Still, finding a home within my body is a hopeful goal.
Violin: Chrysanthe Tan
Poetry: Chrysanthe Tan
On the Other Hand
On the Other Hand is a piece for solo violin about the process of formulating an argument. Our ideas often start small, continuing to grow in confidence and depth, until they are inevitably interrupted by competing counterarguments. Moreover, ideas and arguments rarely develop linearly; rather, there are natural contours, repetitive seeds, and abrupt sparks that interject the thought process. We constantly work to filter, blend, and refine these thoughts as we subconsciously choose the important matter we wish to communicate.
This week, Chrysanthe Tan opens up her "Autistic Accessibility in Music" series of columns to address reader-submitted questions, covering topics like sensory-friendly rooms, classroom techniques, wheelchair accessibility, stimming, and more!
An organized, actionable reference guide to help you enact a permanent framework for autistic accessibility in your musical efforts.
Musicians, arts administrators, colleagues: It’s time we talk about autism.