Discovering Diverse Keyboards

Our diverse collection of keyboard instruments was brought to life by students in The Space on 4 November, in this unusual concert organised by Mr Wey.

The wonderfully varied programme spanned three centuries of music, from JS Bach to Sofiane Pamart, with student performances on the clavichord, fortepiano, harpsichord, organ, toy piano and prepared piano.

One highlight was a performance of Handel’s Organ Concerto in F major, with organists Orphée Patricot, Natasha Man and Joseph Charkin.

A clavichord piece by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729), the first female composer to have an opera performed in France, was included as part of the Music department’s Discovering Diverse Voices project, played by Karina Wong.

Although ostensibly made for children, the toy piano has inspired experimentally minded composers to write serious works for it. Among these was John Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano, Movts 1 and 3, played by Dennis Zhu Wang.

After the toy piano we heard pieces by John Cage and Hauschka for prepared piano, played by Niki Zhang, Lakshmi Kandasamy and Jaxon Pang. A prepared piano is one with objects inserted into it to alter its sound. Rather than just to work with the intended sounds of the instrument, experimental composers have used the piano as a found object that, with a bit of imagination and daring, can create a new world of sounds.

Throughout history, there has been a wide array of keyboard instruments producing different sounds and serving varying aesthetics. In recent times the lush and warm sounds of the grand piano has lured us into a comfort zone, so hegemonic that the word ‘Steinway’ has become synonymous with ‘piano’ for many people.

The concert served as an antidote to sameness, and celebrated the diversity of keyboard instruments each with their unique qualities.

Thank you to all the piano and organ teachers, and Mr Harvey for rehearsing the Handel organ concerto.

Photos

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