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Wong, Theresa: Venice Is a Fish (Euphorbia Records)

Five pieces composed as a diary manifest in song from Bay Area cellist and singer Theresa Wong, reflecting on her time in Venice through labyrinthine melodic and rhythmic pathways, adding piano and the Japanese 5-string tonkori instrument to add exotic flavor to each eclectic song, blurring genres as Wong's impressions and expression lets each song lead where it must.

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product information:

UPC: 715875240979

Label: Euphorbia Records
Catalog ID: EUP-001
Squidco Product Code: 31265

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded by The Norman Conquest, 2008.


Theresa Wong-Tonkori, cello, voice, piano

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Artist Biographies:

"Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Bridging sound, movement, theater and visual art, her primary interest lies in finding the potential for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike.

Her works include The Unlearning (Tzadik), 21 songs for violin, cello and 2 voices inspired by Goya's Disasters of War etchings, O Sleep, an improvised opera for an 8 piece ensemble exploring the conundrum of sleep and dream life and Venice Is A Fish, a collection of solo songs. Her commissioned works include pieces for Splinter Reeds, Vajra Voices, pianist Sarah Cahill and Del Sol string quartet. At the heart of her work is a desire to expand the sonic possibilities of materials and to explore their potential in many modes of performance.

She collaborates with many singular artists, including Fred Frith, Ellen Fullman, Luciano Chessa, Annie Lewandowski, Chris Brown, Frantz Loriot, John McCowen, Søren Kjærgaard, Carla Kihlstedt, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats and filmmaker Daria Martin. In 2018, Wong founded fo'c'sle, a record label dedicated to adventurous music from the Bay Area and beyond, featuring inaugural releases by Ellen Fullman with David Gamper and Stuart Dempster, Chris Brown, Powerdove and the Lijiang Quintet.

Wong has shared her work internationally at venues including Fondation Cartier in Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Cafe Oto in London, Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea in Morelia, Mexico and The Stone and Roulette in New York City. She is the recipient of grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, American Composers Forum, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and Meet The Composer. Wong is a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow and has also been an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Yaddo. She currently works and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area."

-Theresa Wong Website (

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track listing:

1. Venice Is A Fish 6:38

2. Il Sogno (The Dream) 5:17

3. Nightwatching 5:30

4. Lost Bird 5:45

5. Fog Visitation 7:45
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"A diary manifest in songs, Venice Is A Fish traverses through invisible tunnels of inner and outer realities as it takes the listener through a kaleidoscope of unexpected melodies, noises and texts, presented in five exquisitely original songs."-fo'c'sle

"Theresa Wong's Venice Is A Fish is a diary manifest in songs. And more, it's lovely music that will challenge you on emotional and intellectual levels as it weaves its way through Wong's life.

The title track is inspired by Wong's two years in Venice where she slipped into the portal of a rarified environment, absent of automobiles and surrounded by water and the hush of quotidian life on a human scale. Recalling the dizzying effects of labyrinthian streets to the expansive relief of the open Adriatic, the music seems otherworldly when living in almost any city other than Venice. Nightwatching in turn is a meditation on the wonder and awe of sailing at night on the open sea. Using an extreme form of scordatura, or detuning to evoke the groanings of a tallship, Wong sings of the gurgling majesty of the oceanic womb. "Lost Bird" is both a compositional and poetic look at the liminal states of being lost and finding structure along one's way. The song combines layers of improvised motifs with sections of those same ideas reconfigured and composed; like snapshots of birds flying through the sky, constant yet captured in ever-changing forms.

These five songs guide the listener through invisible tunnels of inner and outer realities, spanning a range from lonely and almost eerie to joyful and dancelike.

Wong is a solo performer on Venice is a Fish. Although she has collaborated with other artists including Soren Kjaergaard, Fred Frith, and Ellen Fullman, here there is only Wong's voice, prepared piano, cello and her own homemade version of the tonkori, an instrument of the indigenous Ainu people of northern Japan. The compositions occasionally take on a traditional structure, such as in "Il Sogno," but more often take voice and instruments into uncharted territories, informed by Wong's kaleidoscopic experiences.

With influences from Amelia Cuni's take on John Cage's "18 Microtonal Ragas" to Fred Frith's solo acoustic guitar album To Sail To Sail, it's no surprise that Wong pushes all the boundaries, musically and lyrically."

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Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Song Based Music
Stringed Instruments
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