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She shares her name with the Austrian home of Mozart and Beethoven. And she herself studied classical piano from the age of five. But there’s nothing old-world about the music of Vienna Teng, whose Zoë/Rounder Records debut brings to mind artists as diverse as Tori Amos, Simon & Garfunkel and Radiohead.

Not so long ago, being a singer-songwriter was merely a hobby for Teng, a Stanford computer science grad who was on the fast track to a lucrative career, working as a software engineer inSilicon Valley. But she gave all that up to pursue her musical passions – a risky career move, but one which has paid off. The 27-year-old has already released two critically acclaimed independent albums: 2002’s Waking Hour and 2004’s Warm Strangers, which landed on three Billboard album charts and reached #2 on Amazon’s best-seller list. From December 2006 to early 2007, she toured extensively in the United States to promote the release of her third album, Dreaming Through the Noise. Teng co-headlined with Duncan Sheik and opened for Madeleine Peyroux. She began the Green Caravan Tour in April 2007, accompanied by cellist Marika Hughes, violinist Dina Maccabee, and percussionist Alex Wong, along with opening acts such as David Berkeley and Jenny Owen Youngs. In 2008, she relocated from California to New York City, and performed in Central Park on Earth Day at the Green Apple Festival. She’s appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and toured widely, opening for such artists as Shawn Colvin, Joan Osborne, Patty Griffin, Joan Baez and the Indigo Girls. “People used to ask what kind of music I played and I never knew how to answer that,” says Teng. “I work a lot with classically trained musicians, but most of my influences are from 1970’s-era folk music. So now I call it chamber folk.” She adds: “I’m always looking for the perfect pop song combined with an unexpected amount of depth, that’s my idea of great music.” It’s an idea that is certainly prevalent on "Dreaming Through The Noise". Produced by Larry Klein (Madeleine Peyroux, Joni Mitchell), the album is chockfull of memorable songs that together form a landmark achievement for this bold new talent. “There’s a lot of music out there about what it’s like to be young, all those extremes of emotion, foolish romantic things people do,” says Teng.

“I’m more interested in what goes on underneath when there is no drama, when people decide to be grown-up about something.” She adds: “Maybe it comes from talking to my parents, and learning about the tragedies and difficulties they shielded me from when I was younger, and just being amazed at how they’ve handled things with such grace.  So I realized that as people mature, they still have dramatic lives; they’re just often invisible from the outside.  A lot of these songs are interior monologues.  They’re stories about being brave, quietly.” Teng's musical style incorporates folk, pop, classical piano, and a cappella influences. She uses piano as her primary instrument and charges her lyrics with emotion, narrative, and personal history. Teng is a baseline alto but sings over a wide range.

The Album "Dreaming Through The Noise" opens with the moody reverie of “Blue Caravan,” about an imaginary romance, and closes with the touching intimacy of “Recessional,” which contains the album’s title phrase in its observational lyrics. In between, the San Francisco-based singer pianist serves up a veritable treasure trove of compositional gems, from the gypsy-like, café feel of “I Don’t Feel So Well” to the breezy, country-tinged euphoria of “City Hall” and the sultry jazz of the autobiographical “Transcontinental, 1:30 a.m.,” about a late-night misunderstanding with her boyfriend. “City Hall,” one of several songs on the album which was inspired by events in the news, came about after San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced in February 2004 that same-sex marriages would be recognized by the city. The deeply moving “Pontchartrain,” meanwhile, arose from the tragic news of the flooding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The song’s haunting effect is sealed by lush classical strings and a chilling choir sound created by Teng’s voice recorded and multi tracked 32 times. Vienna Teng's next album, "Inland Territory", is slated for a 2009 release.

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