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15 Questions to Suzanne Teng

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?

Hi, I’m very well, thank you! I'm in Topanga, California (a mountain town that is part of Los Angeles)

What’s on your schedule right now?
Heading off to Italy for a vacation. Then we return to play some local shows and I have a few sessions booked for films. One of our songs, Fertile Crescent will be aired on the new NBC show "America's Got Talent" in a few  weeks (same producers as American Idol.)

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
Loreena McKennitt is one of my biggest influences. If anything, I see myself as part of a movement towards creating music that is healing.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
It's tough financially for most artists, I hope things improve, I think they will.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
New  means it hasn't really been done before. I  play a very unique type of music that developed out of my background of classical and world music with a spiritual influence.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Composition is more thought out, sound can be created spontaneously, in nature or mechanically…the two together create organized magic… music.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?

They are very interconnected in what I do.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Has to touch the audience… I try to make each performance unique in my solos and in the set list.. taylored to the specific audience and setting.

A lot of people feel that some of the radical experiments of modern compositions can no longer be qualified as “music”. Would you draw a border – and if so, where?

Personally, when music starts to sound so random and unsettling that I want it to end, that's when I stop calling it music.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?

Popular just means it pleases the masses… serious is more art music which not all  people can and do appreciate due to lack of exposure.

Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?
Ideally, yes. If art can help heal wounds… personally and globally and of the earth, then bravo!

True or false: People need to be educated about  music, before they can really appreciate it.
False. If someone is moved by the music, then they are appreciating it at the deepest level. To appreciate music at the cognitive level, it does help to be educated about that type of music, but I think the greatest appreciators of music are those who cry, laugh, sigh, move and breathe with the music.

Imagine a situation in which there’d be no such thing as copyright and everybody were free to use musical material as a basis for their own compositions – would that be an improvement to the current situation?
Not if everyone started copying each other and lost their own sense of creativity and originality.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?

Loreena McKennitt, Radio Tarifa, Salif Keita, us (Suzanane Teng & Mystic Journey!)

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours
would sound like?

Exotic flutes with orchestra, world percussion, children's choir, world  strings…ahhh…

Mystic Journey (1999) Autumn Light Productions
Miles Beyond (2003) Autumn Light Productions
Enchanted Wind (2006) Autumn Light Productions

Suzanne Teng

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