London International Piano Symposium returns in February
24 November 2014
The Symposium brings together those at the forefront of research into piano performance and pedagogy
The second London International Piano Symposium will be held 13-15 February at the Royal College of Music. This event focuses on the science of piano performance and pedagogy, bringing together a wide range of experts from musical and scientific fields to give three days of lecture recitals, papers and debates.
The first Symposium, held in 2013, covered topics such as ‘the pianist’s brain’ and ‘the physiology of performance’. The 2015 Symposium looks set to be just as diverse; the roundtable debate, for example, will bring together a sports psychologist and a member of the Osteopathy Council as well as various musical specialists, to discuss how pianists can develop a more unified approach to piano performance.
Pianist and musicologist Cristine MacKie, whose research is focused on the role of the body in piano performance, founded the Symposium. MacKie sees performance science as a field that has great potential for the advancement of piano performance and pedagogy. Her aim is that the Symposium ‘may contribute toward the beginning of a “rethink” in piano performance by kindling the notion that “expert pianism” may be accomplished by encouraging performers and pedagogues to develop themselves more fully by exploring the interface between art and science.’
The Symposium celebrates collaboration between disciplines and brings together those at the forefront of research into piano performance and pedagogy. It will be of interest to anyone who wishes to find out more about the latest advancements in these fields – which is the reason that Ghada Hakin at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music is planning to attend: ‘I currently have up to 44 piano students in the Conservatory and I do realise that piano pedagogy is evolving at such a fast pace, that if I do not keep up with the updates, I am running the risk of teaching piano in the old fashioned way.’
The fee to attend all three days is £375.
IP writer Murray McLachlan publishes new piano technique book
11 November 2014
Concert pianist, teacher and IP contributor Murray McLachlan has released a new book The Foundations of Technique, based on his ‘Masterclass’ series published in IP.
The Foundations of Technique offers an innovative approach to technique. It includes information and exercises that are relevant for beginners and intermediate players as well as post-graduate students and professional concert pianists.
McLachlan has always emphasised that piano technique does not need to be divorced from artistic creativity and that ‘technique makes dreams come true’. The book considers the importance of a healthy approach to piano practice and covers all the basic principles that are essential if a reliable technique is to be achieved.
McLachlan, who is chair of European Piano Teacher’s Association (EPTA-UK), head of Keyboard at Chetham’s School of Music and a senior tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, continues his ‘Masterclass’ series for IP, in addition to his more recent column, ‘Helping hands’, written specifically for intermediate pianists.
Faber Music is offering IP readers 10% off the book, which is priced £9.99. To claim your discount, click here and enter code INTERP001.
Offer available online only.
Ends 31 December
Antonio Pappano named patron of the Keyboard Charitable Trust
11 November 2014
Sir Antonio Pappano© EMI Classics
Geoffrey Shindler OBE, chairman of the Keyboard Charitable Trust, has announced that the Royal Opera House’s eminent music director, Sir Antonio Pappano, has agreed to become the Keyboard Trust’s patron.
‘Since its foundation in 1991, it has become a tradition for the Keyboard Trust to be associated with musical excellence of the highest calibre. Sir Antonio follows in the footsteps of our co-founder, the late Claudio Abbado and, like him, is totally devoted to the development of talented young musicians,’ said Shindler.
‘We are all dependent on others,’ said Pappano. ‘As a conductor, I need motivated musicians and as a pianist, a stage on which to perform. As a freshman, I was lucky enough to be given both by Daniel Barenboim.’
The Keyboard Charitable Trust was established in 1991 and its mission is to help young keyboard players reduce the element of chance in building a professional musical career. The Trust identifies the most talented young performers (aged 18-30) and assists their development by offering them opportunities to perform throughout the world.
Groundbreaking piano takes centre stage at Brighton Dome event
5 November 2014
I first tried out my idea for the Inside-Out Piano in 2008, when I dismantled an old upright. I’d been thinking about the fact that when I was learning any piece with inside piano techniques, it was always rather uncomfortable and awkward. I put the upright piano back together in a new way, with the strings going up from the keyboard and the Inside-Out idea was born, resembling old cabinet or Giraffe pianos. Playing it in performances, audiences immediately responded to the revealed insides. Audience members enjoyed being able to see what was going on when I was preparing or playing directly on the strings. The piano also had a sculptural quality that made me want to start exploring movement and I developed some short performances with Claudia Molitor.
This year, after visiting historical instrument experts Christopher Nobbs and Steven Devine to discuss other radical innovations in piano building, I had a beautiful new version of the Inside-Out Piano built for me by Pierre Malbos in Paris. He reconfigured an Erard straight-strung grand and – through a long period of testing and building – created a new back-striking action with additions to the whippen, to enable the new right angle between the keys and strings. The instrument could well be the 21st-century grand piano: it is much more suitable for modern homes, with a considerably smaller footprint but just as big a sound as a normal grand. It is perhaps even more impressive as it faces the performer.
What wasn’t predictable was the frame that Pierre and his collaborator Yann Davidal produced. It was created so that I could manoeuvre the piano from its upright position into its moving position (lying on its side on a trolley). I do this by using a ratchet and the piano gradually leans over. Because it uses a pivot system, the piano is only fixed at one point to the frame and when one removes a very small balance bar, there is an incredible side-effect: the whole piano can swing freely in mid-air! It resembles an enormous piano clock and really is something to behold.
As I had had such a wondrous instrument built, I felt it was only appropriate to make a new show: ‘Moments of weightlessness’, which revels in all of its characteristics. I will be performing this in Brighton Dome’s earsthetic – a mini-season of interdisciplinary performance – on 10 December. In the show, I use the piano as a metaphor to illustrate my experience of becoming a mum of two in the last two and a half years. I’ve ended up ‘preparing’ the piano with more than the usual nuts and bolts: children’s socks, masks, drinking straws and plastic spoons feature.
Next year I will be commissioning new repertoire for the piano and performing existing inside-piano repertoire. I hope to show the world that this shape of piano really is relevant in this day and age, both for new types of playing and for homes that may not have enormous drawing rooms.
The Inside-Out Piano development has been supported by Brunel University BRIEF and Athena Swan Awards, the AHRC and Arts Council England. Sarah is an Artist-in-Residence of earsthetic at Brighton Dome and a Senior Lecturer in Music at Brunel University.
earsthetic takes place 8-13 December. Sarah Nicolls' new show 'Moments of weightlessness' takes place on 10 December, while the original Inside-Out Piano will be installed in the Café-bar at Brighton Dome and members of the public are invited to come and try it out for themselves
Washington Post rebukes pianist Dejan Lazic’s request for review removal
3 November 2014
Time to forget: How the review appears via Google
The Washington Post has rebuked pianist Dejan Lazic’s request for the paper to remove a review of his 2010 Kennedy Center recital from its website.
The review – which appears top of the first page of Lazic’s Google results – was penned by critic Anne Midgette. Midgette compliments Lazic’s Chopin: ‘The very first notes of Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante at the start of the program signalled that he can do anything he wants at the keyboard, detailing chords with a jeweler’s precision, then laying little curls of notes atop a cushion of sound like diamonds nestled on velvet.’ However, the writer goes on to criticise Lazic’s ‘host of concert-pianist playacting gestures’ and concludes ‘there were fine moments, but they stubbornly refused to add up to anything more than a self-conscious display of Fine Moments.’
Overall, the review is carefully balanced and clearly praises Lazic as being ‘profoundly gifted’, but the pianist requested that the Washington Post remove the article under the European Union ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling.
‘To wish for such an article to be removed from the internet has absolutely nothing to do with censorship or with closing down our access to information’ said Lazic, in an email to the Washington Post. Instead, Lazic argued, he should have the right to control ‘the truth’ of his own public image.
The Washington Post flatly refused and suggests that Lazic’s request demonstrates how the ruling might be misinterpreted and potentially misused in the future. ‘It’s the first request The Post has received under the EU ruling. It’s also a truly fascinating, troubling demonstration of how the ruling could work,’ writes Caitlin Dewey, reporter for the Washington Post.
‘I can’t imagine that journalism would have to abide by such strictures,’ Midgette said. ‘Once something is in a paper, it’s a matter of public record, and then it’s on the record for better or worse; isn’t that so?’
Under the current ruling, removed articles can be deleted from the European search engine, but cannot be got rid of from the worldwide web entirely.
Dejan Lazic writes about his Piano Concerto in Istrian Style, Op 18, in the Nov/Dec issue of IP