Happily ensconced up here in North Adams, MA at the Bang on a Can festival. They keep us busy here; not a lot of time to “blog”. Here is last night’s 3‑hour rehearsal of Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians:
That’s Brian Calhoon on the left. At one point I get up from my piano and join him on the top line of the marimba. I love how Reich treats pianists (the most finicky of musicians) as nothing more than auxiliary percussionists (some of the most down-to-earth). Props for putting us in our place, Steve. The performance, and my grand marimba début, are coming up on Saturday. (Side note: we were trying to explain to an Aussie percussionist the meaning of the expression “props”, and decided it is to prop someone up with a stage prop, like a teapot or something.)
A couple days ago I played Derek Johnson’s solo piano piece Infinity Plunge in front of some apocalyptic Anselm Kiefer landscapes. The piece is a pretty stunning showcase of both compositional and pianistic virtuosity, and has a wonderful dramatic sweep over the course of 3 and a half movements (which are all linked by related gestures, motives, and tempi). You can listen here:
Derek Johnson: “Infinity Plunge”
Right now I’m off to rehearse Antheil’s Ballet Mechanique. This festival is all about testing the stamina of massed pianists; the Ballet is almost more taxing in the few instances I’m not playing, but frantically counting the rests until the next time I come in. Funny how that works.