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BIOGRAPHY

Poet and violinist Phoebe Tsang was born in Hong Kong, and grew up in England. The author of Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse (Tightrope Books, 2009), her poetry has been published in international journals including Asia Literary Review and the Literary Review of Canada, and the anthologies Garden Variety (Quattro Books, 2007) and Not A Muse (Haven Books, 2009). As a violinist, her engagements have included solos with Sinfonia Toronto and the Toronto Philharmonia, chamber music with I Furiosi baroque ensemble, Continuum Contemporary Music, The WoodChoppers Association and Esprit Orchestra, and principal positions for orchestras including the Ontario Philharmonic, Canadian Sinfonietta, Sinfonia Toronto and the Toronto Philharmonia. Phoebe was a student and teaching assistant of the late, great violinist Lorand Fenyves, and she is devoted to her role as an arts educator. She currently teaches violin, as well as poetry workshops for grade twelve students, at Toronto's Havergal College.


In Phoebe's work as both a musician and poet, the relationship between the two art forms is inextricably entwined. She has been praised for the "lyrical, exquisite phrase-making" of her poetry (Sudeep Sen, Atlas Aark Arts), as well as a dramatic, visceral approach to the violin that reflects her "total commitment to bringing [the] music fully to life" (Allan Pulker, The Wholenote). The symbiotic relationship between poetry and music has also led directly to her work as a librettist, and to poetry commissions from orchestras and other concert organizations. Phoebe's holistic approach to creativity, and interest in performance-based interdisciplinary art forms, can be traced to her studies at the UK's innovative Bartlett School of Architecture, from which she holds a BSc in Architecture.


As a librettist, Phoebe is currently working with composer Erik Ross. Their upcoming operetta, "A Chinese Fox Story", was commissioned by the Canadian Sinfonietta, and will be premiered in January 2012. Phoebe's poem-cycle, "Prima Donna", set to music by composer Abigail Richardson, was premiered in November 2011 by Trio Desiree, featuring soprano Desiree Till. In March 2011, she will collaborate with installation-artist Kristen Peterson, to create new work for a performance by violinist Lara St John. In December 2007, Phoebe gave the world premiere of Canadian composer Scott Good's Anguished Grief for violin and orchestra. Anguished Grief was written in response to a poem by Cristine de Pizan, a medieval feminist and Europe's first professional female writer, a pioneer against the stereotypes of her time.


In 2006, Phoebe co-founded Alicier Arts Chamber Music, of which she is Artistic Director. The mandate of Alicier Arts is the re-presentation of classical chamber music via innovative programming and alternative performance venues, alongside genres such as jazz, contemporary improvisation, and spoken word. In February 2010, Phoebe was one of three poets commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, resulting in her poem-cycle "Passion Dance", inspired by the music of Osvaldo Golijov, which she was invited to read at the New Creations Festival 2010.