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Meet Wells Leng

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wells Leng.

Wells, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My first exposure to music was mainly classical. I grew up in Austin, Texas with parents who encouraged my musical and personal development. Upon hearing me aimlessly bang the piano, they gave me piano lessons, and after hearing Yo Yo Ma play the Bach cello suites, I started cello. After hearing Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, I decided to give composing a shot as well. I came to LA in 2013 to study music at USC. Here was where I also became involved in Taiko Community with Kazan Taiko and Senshin Buddhist Temple. After graduating USC, I got my MFA as a performer-composer at CalArts. Currently, I am the collaborative keyboardist at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church at Pasadena.

My current ongoing collaborations are stickytack duo with Richard An, Ansatz Duo with Tal Katz, and Quartet Friends with Katie Eikam, Kevin Good, and Richard An.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Yes, for the most part. I’ve been really lucky with everything that I’ve been given and I feel extremely grateful for my teachers, my family, my friends.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I am a musician who does a few different things, but it can be boiled down to performing and composing. I play quite a few instruments, especially (but not limited to) Asian wind instruments, but my main instruments are piano and cello. I like learning about different types of music and styles and then using what I learn in my own music, whether in performing, improvising, or writing. As a result, I have been involved in a large variety of settings, from the classical avant-garde and free improvisation world:

https://stickytack.bandcamp.com/track/kokyu2
https://ansatzduo.bandcamp.com/track/sometimes-the-mornings-are-rough-but-then-the-days-repeat-themselves
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRC30c4Gyvs

To areas as far as Baroque music, Japanese-American ensemble drumming (taiko), and Jimi Hendrix

https://video.ibm.com/recorded/121905135
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjUDkZfDb94
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IgxGaIHGcg

I work with a lot of prepared piano, and my graduation recital and a recital I performed recently with Tal Katz remain high points for me, in both of which I used prepared piano.

My current inspirations are American bluegrass music, plunderphonics, New Age piano, and the music of Toshio Hosokawa. I think music, like food, should be something that we try to keep expanding our knowledge of and to keep learning about new things.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’ve had so many positive influences in my life, it’s hard to give all the credit without running out of words, but I must thank my parents, who have been there from the start to nurture my interest in music, my countless teachers, who have given me so much knowledge, and my friends, who keep me feeling good about making music with them!

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Jessica Gable, California Institute of the Arts, Yarn/Wire Institute

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