Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Join Composer and Keyboardist Phyllis Chen at the Morris Museum in an Interactive Workshop for the Whole Family

Floating Verses, Morristown

WHEN: President's Day, Monday, February 17th, at 1pm.
Bickford Theatre, 6 Normandy Heights Rd., Morristown
The workshop is free with museum admission but advance registration is required. Register at:
To learn more about Phyllis Chen and Live Arts or to order tickets, please visit:
Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 973.971.3706, or in person at the Morris Museum. The Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre is located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ, and offers free parking and full accessibility. Box office hours for phone sales are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

"Phyllis Chen is a master of the art of play, serious, serious play." Washington Post

Acclaimed composer and keyboardist Phyllis Chen will lead a workshop in which participants are invited to draw on scrolls which Phyllis will then punch into miniature compositions based on the drawings, literally turning the drawings into new music.

With her composer's acumen and alchemy, she will then use this material to weave together a new sound collage, Automatoys, which will have its world premiere at the Bickford Theatre on March 13th at 8pm and Saturday, March 14th at 2pm as part of the Live Arts performance series. For Automatoys, Phyllis will assemble an orchestra of custom made music boxes and automatic musical instruments to create a new kind of glorious sound in which some of the audience has a stake.

You can get a preview of Phyllis Chen here.

Phyllis Chen played the toy piano as a little girl and fell in love with it when she encountered it again as an adult. Here was a remarkable instrument with no set history or rigid rules about how it should be played. With its unrefined but beautiful sound, this children’s toy is a new frontier in music and Phyllis Chen’s mission is to explore all its possibilities.  She is a composer, keyboardist and creative force whose music draws from her tactile exploration of objects and sound. She provided some of the music for The Other Mozart, which was presented at Live Arts last October.

In March For the Morris Museum, Phyllis Chen will perform Lighting the Dark, a large scale solo work that incorporates two toy pianos, a clavichord, an accordion and custom made music boxes. And, with contributions for the community,  she will premiere Automatoys. Automatoys will be presented just a few steps away from the museum's Murtough D. Guiness Collection, with its 750 historic mechanical musical intruments and mechanical figures. In one visit to the museum, viewers can step from Phyllis Chen's sparkling new 21st century music back in time to musical delights and fantasies of the 19th Century. You can sample them here:

Phyllis Chen has been described by The Washington Post as “a virtuoso of the toy piano, she delights in the delicate sonorities of music boxes and everyday objects, weaving them into strikingly original works of engaging lightness and transparency."