Byron Au Yong

photo of Byron Au Yong
Artist Statement: 

Byron Au Yong (歐陽良仁) composes songs of dislocation prompted by a broken lineage. Upcoming projects include Activist Songbook, 53 raps and songs to counteract hate (Asian Arts Initiative, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Montalvo Arts Center) and 9 Lifeboats, a performance handbook installation about climate displacement (Exploratorium).

Additional works include (Be)longing, a.k.a. Trigger, a music-theater forum about coming of age in an age of guns (International Festival of Arts & Ideas, MDC Live Arts, Virginia Tech's Moss Arts Center), Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China, choreographed by Donald Byrd (Spectrum Dance Theatre) and Stuck Elevator, libretto by Aaron Jafferis, directed by Chay Yew, (American Conservatory Theatre, International Festival of Arts & Ideas).

Site-responsive projects include Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas, for hiking opera singers and water percussionists, (64 waterways throughout greater Seattle), TURBINE, for moving voices along the water (Fairmount Waterworks, Leah Stein Dance Company, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia), and Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden, influenced by Chinese gardens, John Cage and Occupy Wall Street (Chicago Composers Orchestra). Multimedia installations such as Piano Concerto–Houston, for 11 pianists, commissioned by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and YIJU 移居 (to migrate) for the Jack Straw New Media Gallery combine local and global currents as well.

Born to Chinese immigrants in Pittsburgh and raised in the Pacific Northwest, his upbringing informs a creative process that examines the contradictions between the American Dream and sustainability. Variety calls one of Au Yong’s musicals “claustrophobic and expansive, intimate and existential, personal and political all at once.” The Seattle Weekly says that his “interdisciplinary works are as exquisite and imaginative as they are unclassifiable.” Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Au Yong creates across disciplines with an attention to the ways people connect with the places they call home.

Residencies include the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Center for Migration and the Global City at Rutgers University, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Westminster Choir College, Weston Playhouse, Sundance Institute Theatre Labs, and Yale Institute for Music Theatre. Honors include a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, Creative Capital Award, and Time Warner Foundation Fellowship. Au Yong is an Assistant Professor in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.