Automatoys (Postponed)

This program has been postponed

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.

For the Morris Museum, 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. She will also present a brand new work, Floating Verses Morristown (World Premiere). And, Chen will perform a new piece, Uncoiling Beats, inspired by her recent visit to the Museum’s Guinness Collection.  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.(…) Chen is a master of the art of play — serious, serious play.”

For her work, Floating Verses Morristown, Chen held a workshop on Monday, February 17 (Presidents’ Day) where participants were invited to draw on scrolls which Chen will use to create individual compositions based on the illustrations. These miniature compositions become a visual and aural collage- audiences will see and hear these works as they are projected live during the performance. This new work which is making its World Premiere at Live Arts assembles an orchestra of custom made music boxes and automatic musical instruments which perform a work that that is as visual as it is sonorous.

Automatoys will coincide with the Museum’s third installment of the exhibition series A Cache of Kinetic Art: Tiny Intricacies.  


Museum Members: $35
Non-Members: $40
25 and Under with Valid ID: $25

Live Arts Subscription: 6 Event Series 
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Museum Member: $168
Non-Member: $192
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Get tickets

Previously purchased tickets will be automatically moved into the new date once announced.  Please call the Box Office at 973.971.3706 with any questions.

  • Friday, March 13, 2020, 8:00PM
  • Saturday, March 14, 2020, 2:00PM (Add Museum admission on-site for $3)


On-line ticket sales end two hours prior to a performance.  At that time, please call the Box Office for tickets at 973.971.3706.




Image Credit (top): Phyllis Chen.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Hourly Schedule

8:00PM -
Friday, March 13, 2020
2:00PM -
Saturday, March 14, 2020


Mar 13 - 14 2020