When: Sat., July 20 2013
VIENNA TENG Incorporating indie-folk, classical piano and a cappella singing, Vienna Teng specializes in sophisticated, if slightly twee, songcraft. Born to Taiwanese immigrants, Teng is a computer science grad who ditched a programming career for music. After carving a market niche with articulate chamber pop that marries Rufus Wainwright theatrics to ’90s Lilith Fair atmospherics, the pianist-composer made another abrupt turn into grad school, taking a four-year break to study sustainability. To some, this busy précis might pigeonhole Teng as an overachieving Asian-American, but, laced with introspection and self-deprecating humor, Teng’s lyrical concerns cannot be contained by ethnic stereotypes. The witty exception that proves Teng’s all-inclusive rule is “Grandmother Song,” a lecture on the folly of a music career, courtesy of Teng’s disapproving, Mandarin-speaking grandmother. In recent years, Teng has shaken off an over-reliance on inspirations like Tori Amos, turning toward bolder, more accessible songs. The move has energized her. Perhaps the break to study sustainability has helped sustain Teng’s career.