Live at the Davis – Inner Worlds

Featuring a wide array of new pieces meant to be played entirely inside of the piano, Inner Worlds takes you on a fascinating sonic journey.  Encompassing a range of special effects, the music for this concert ranges from eerie to playful to dramatic and everything in between.  GoPro cameras inside the piano send the image to the big screen in real time.

DETAILS
Monday, December 16, 7:30 PM
Davis Theater
4614 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago
$20, $12 students

Preview Video

PROGRAM

The Banshee by Henry Cowell
To Stare Astonished at the Sea by Lois Vierk
Chant by Vivian Fung
lauschgut by Charlotte Seither

Plus these works commissioned by ACM:
Stritch by Pierce Gradone
Orbita by Jeff Kowalkowski and Mark Mahoney
Inner Worlds by Lisa Neher
UnCaged by Roger Tréfousse
Operating Theatre by Randall West

PERFORMED BY
Marianne Parker – piano
Amy Wurtz – piano

David Wetzel – Technical Director

ABOUT THE PIECES

The Banshee by Henry Cowell
Inside the piano technique all began in 1925 with an innovative piece from Henry Cowell called The Banshee.

Cowell stated that his inspiration in creating the “stringpiano” method of playing came from a desire to reinvent the landscape of piano technique finding new usages and sounds for old instruments without necessarily inventing new ones.

 

To Stare Astonished at the Sea by Lois Vierk
When it is calm the ocean is gentle and inviting. It can be mysteriously majestic or humblingly powerful. Sometimes it thrashes about frighteningly.
The title of my piece was inspired by the W. B. Yeats poem “Her Triumph”. Yeats’ words say to me that the energy of life itself is untamed and often wilder and more beautiful than what shows on the surface.

The piece is played entirely inside the piano on the strings. It is composed in three sections, beginning percussively in the lowest register, adding “tremolos” and “trills” (no pitches here are notated exactly). The music moves to higher strings and develops tonally with plucked string phrases and dynamic glissandos. lt ends with a flurry on the highest strings.


Chant by Vivian Fung
Glimpses is a set of three pieces that each feature a different aspect of prepared piano. In the third piece, Chant, the pianist plays inside the piano and pulls on rosined butcher twine to simulate a long deep drone that permeates through the piece.

Glimpses was originally written for pianist Jenny Lin and was premiered by Jenny at the 2006 ISCM Miami Festival.

 

 

 

 

lauschgut by Charlotte Seither
Traditionally, the piano often gives vertical additions of tones. In lauschgut  I have tried to handle the piano in just one voice, to combine both layers – noise and pitch – within. The work gives five short pieces, just dealing with selected materials. Due to the risk of the inside techniques, the sound always stays a bit “unpredictable”, so the unique moment of listening is particularly important.

 

 

 

Stritch by Pierce Gradone
Strich is a collection of miniatures inspired by Vasilly Kandinsky’s eponymous painting by, Durchgehender Strich (trans. Transverse Lines). Strich imagines the inside of the piano as a canvas, with Kandinsky’s dynamic lines and shapes serving as the blueprint for the pianist’s physical and musical gestures.

Each movement asks the pianist to use a different implement to play, including their palms and fingers, guitar picks, and percussion mallets; allowing the piece to explore a variety of musical worlds within the piano, from percussive, industrial grooves to long, eerie counterpoint on plucked strings.

 

Orbita by Jeff Kowalkowski and Mark Mahoney
Orbita is a co-composed work for piano interior, percussion, trumpet, trombone, and piano which seeks to pull resonance from the piano through the emulation of planetary motion.

 

 

 

 

Inner Worlds by Lisa Neher
Neher’s piece takes inspiration from what is inside our planet. The music explores the layers of the Earth: the hard outer crust, the firm but moving mantle that shifts and re-forms and erupts to form volcanoes, and the pressurized core made of metals that swirl around, generating the planet’s magnetic field.

Listeners will hear throbbing slaps of the low strings, swirling metallic glissandi on the upper strings, and rhythmic tapping and beating on the piano’s support beams using hands and yarn mallets.

 

 

UnCaged by Roger Tréfousse
They say that all art is biography. A musical form I’ve been experimenting with recently is based on synesthesia, creating musical portraits of visual artists and their work.  In some sense, UnCaged is a self-portrait.

UnCaged refers to a wonderful sense of liberation that I’ve been feeling recently by allowing more improvisatory flow to enter into my work.  This breaking down of barriers is probably due to a powerful sense of expansion and  homecoming that’s come with spending the last two months living in Berlin; a place from which my father’s family was forced to flee.

The title UnCaged describes this sense of liberation. It also includes John Cage’s name, referencing Marcel Duchamp (one of Cage’s heroes) and his brilliant use of puns.

 

Operating Theatre by Randall West
It starts with delicate pricks, meddling inside the piano; and it is gradually pulled out. The piano is never struck. Instead, thread is tied to the piano’s strings and the thread is plucked, which in turn provokes the piano strings.

It is a splaying or “opening up” of the instrument to which the audience is privy, and in which onlookers partake. As if scientists were exposing some animalistic, ancient, beautiful, but private quality of a being, and allowing us, as students and voyeurs, to discover it. An experiment; a ritual; an operating theatre.