“A Moving Sound” Press Conference on 9/21/2011

Asia has yet to make much of a mark on the ever-growing world music scene. But if there is one group poised to change that, it is A MOVING SOUND (AMS). Drawing on the rich culture of Taiwan, a beautiful island off the coast of China where ancient Chinese traditions flourish as nowhere else — including on the mainland — the sound of AMS captures the way these ancient traditions jostle with the open, sophisticated, and avant-garde styles that have been welcomed in Taiwan in the two decades that have passed since the end of martial law.  AMS has fashioned a exquisite, accessible and, yes, quite “moving” sound that speaks eloquently of its unique country of origin, while at the same time speaking in a universal language to listeners around the world.

Check A Moving Sound’s performance during their press conference on 9/21 3pm at TECO: http://www.youtube.com

Venue: DROM (85 Avenue A, New York, New York 10009)
Time: 9:30pm
Admission: Advance Tickets: $12, Call for your table reservation at (212) 777-1157

Now American listeners have an opportunity to hear AMS on their first U.S. release which debuts on September 13, 2011. The self-titled set premieres on Motéma Music, a rising New York City-based label that is showcasing some of today’s most artistically virtuosic and culturally innovative recording artists in world music and jazz, including Randy Weston, Monty Alexander, and Oran Etkin.

In the decade since AMS was formed in Taipei by Mia Hsieh and Scott Prairie, the group has released three albums in their native Taiwan: Little Universe (2004), Songs Beyond Words (2007) and Starshine (2009), with tracks from the latter two serving as the source for their eponymous Motéma debut. They were featured artists in a special program on Taipei presented by the Lonely Planet television series (broadcast in 50 countries on The Discovery Channel), and have also been profiled in The Huffington Post, Public Radio International’s The World, Link TV, Taiwan Public TV, and BBC Radio 3’s World Routes.

The music of AMS has been praised by critics and world music advocates around the globe. Tom Pryor, supervisor of National Geographic World Music, described AMS as “one of the most original outfits working in the world music arena today.” And Theodore C. Levin, the noted Dartmouth University ethnomusicologist who was the first Executive Director for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, describes their work as “really beautiful, and beautifully presented.”


The story of AMS begins with the personal and artistic journeys of its two founders, American musician Scott Prairie and Taiwanese singer and dancer Mia Hsieh.

Scott grew up in small town outside Pittsburgh, fated, or so his family believed, to a career in classical music. He played French horn and was accepted into the prestigious Carnegie Mellon School of Music. He ended up a singer-songwriter and experimental composer, working with Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth) and guitarist Mark Ribot and performing at New York City clubs including The Kitchen and The Knitting Factory. It was there he first met Mia.

Mia’s parents were part of the wave of some two million people who fled to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-Shek at the end of a civil war which left the Communists in control of mainland China. Mia grew up in the era of martial law in Taiwan.  When it ended, after 38 years, it brought many changes. She got a Fulbright scholarship that brought her to New York for six months. There she studied voice and dance with Meredith Monk. Says Mia, “New York helped me see my unique qualities and realize I wanted to go back home and start something from here.”

After Mia returned to Taiwan, Scott followed a few months later, and in the nine years since, neither has ever looked back. Says Scott, “It’s just fate that my creative style also fit in here, and that Taiwan was suddenly open for this kind of collaboration.” They explored experimental and traditional music, and incorporated multimedia, dance and costume into their work (their costumes are specifically designed for the group and, like their music, an artistic reinterpretation of traditional forms specifically designed for the group). Even their name is a reworking of familiar terms – first in Chinese as Sheng (sound) Don (movement), which they then translated into English as A Moving Sound.

Chinese instruments – especially the erhu (two-string vertical fiddle) and zhong ruan (a four-string lute) – give the music of China its distinctive texture. Traditional Chinese music styles serve as an inspiration and as the foundation for several compositions on the CD. The ancient, meditative, and elegant “nan guan” style is the source for the AMS song “Gu Qin,” with lyrics based on a famous 11th century poem. “Ghost Lake” is a reinterpretation of a traditional tale sung in both an aboriginal dialect and an experimental vocal style. Taiwanese folk music inspired “The Market Song,” a popular concert number depicting the market where Mia’s parents worked.

So now, having crossed the boundaries that separate the traditional from the modern, the East from the West, the personal from the universal, AMS crosses another border, bringing their music with its innovation and sophistication, yet deep and ancient roots, to American audiences for the first time.

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