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FRIDAY & SATURDAY
Composer George Crumb is probably best known for the buzzing, howling violins of Black Angels, the Vietnam War-inspired string quartet used to memorable effect in The Exorcist. The sounds should be somewhat tinier when pianist Margaret Leng Tan (pictured) plays two concerts in honor of the West Virginia-bred, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s 70th birthday (which was actually in October). Tan is the leading exponent of playing big music on miniature pianos, which she does on albums like her latest, The Art of the Toy Piano. At these concerts, she will play Crumb’s A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 and Makrokosmos, Volume I: Twelve Fantasy Pieces After the Zodiac. Both pieces were written for piano—the latter for amplified piano—in Crumb’s eclectic style, which draws on both classical and experimental sources, and takes its inspiration from current events and literature, notably the poetry of Federico Garca Lorca. These wide-ranging influences yield “the most American composer since Charles Ives,” according to Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff, which makes Crumb a natural interest for the Singapore-born, New York-based Leng Tan. The Julliard graduate has made her reputation performing both American and Asian music, some of it written expressly for her by composers as diverse as John Cage and Tan Dun. Leng Tan performs at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Kennedy Center’s Grand Foyer. Free. (202) 467-4600. (Mark Jenkins)