21 April 2017

Turning Points Piano Showcase

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On Tuesday 14 March, a group of the school’s pianists performed a variety of experimental music in the Turning Points Piano Showcase concert in the Recital Room, organised by Mr Wey. Throughout the concert the performers used not only the two pianos (usually in weird and wonderful ways) but also other objects such as a radio and a jug of water, as well as their own voices. The concert also featured several electronic pieces. Here are a couple of items that stood out.

Ablinger’s piece entitled ‘Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Mahler’ produced the most powerful reaction while listening. This was all the title composers’ symphonies electronically condensed into four minutes. Understandably, it was neither recognisable nor tuneful so the audience was relieved when it ended!

Many experimental pieces use extended techniques; Henry Cowell was famous for using them. For example in this concert there was: the ‘harped piano’ in ‘Aeolian Harp’; plucking, scraping and muting the strings in ‘The Banshee’ and ‘Sinister Resonance’; while ‘The Tides of Manaunaun’ uses tone clusters that require the player to press down many consecutive keys with their forearm.

Finally, I really enjoyed performing Toch’s ‘Geographical Fugue’ with the other performers, directed by Mr Potts. It follows the usual fugue conventions but uses spoken chorus, where the lyrics are just spoken with dynamics – they are all geographical place names such as Trinidad and the Lake Titicaca. It was a fitting end to a unique concert that opened everyone’s ears to unconventional and challenging music.

Mika Curson, Year 9

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