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A live report of our Piano Day event at The Courtyard Theatre

A live report of our Piano Day event at The Courtyard Theatre  picture
For Douglas Dare, the piano is a sad instrument. He makes a convincing case; at his fingertips, the keys sing plaintively, exquisitely melancholy. By the time he embarks on a cover of Bjork’s ‘Lionsong’, that peculiar mood has settled over the audience; the room is packed, but thoughts are turned inwards. You can see it in the swaying.
 
Dare’s is the opening set of London’s Piano Day celebrations, held on March 28th at Shoreditch’s Courtyard Theatre, opened in the late nineteenth century as a public library. Shortly afterwards, we’re offered another glimpse of what the piano can do. When Michael Price performs some tracks from The Hope of Better Weather, you can hear expectance but also traces of nostalgia. Remembrance of Better Weather would be an equally apt title.
 
No modern piano concert would be complete without a nod to John Cage. And when it comes, it does so courtesy of Peter Broderick whose performance of In a Landscape has that mesmeric, slow-building quality so peculiar to the instrument. Broderick’s set is also the closest the evening comes to a variety performance; he kicks off with some piano jokes (including one he penned himself), and at one point wanders amid the crowd, singing unaccompanied (the farthest we drift from twinkling keys.)
 
The evening was a celebration of what the piano can do, and the different directions in which a pianist can lead the instrument (and, of course, vice versa.) So it’s only fitting that proceeds went to the next generation, helping to buy a new piano for South London’s World Heart Beat Academy . Run by Sahana Gero, the charity offers music tuition to some three hundred children, many from challenging backgrounds, and is expanding into a new space in Battersea.
 
World Heat Beat is place where creativity and social change go hand-in-hand; the students are not only offered an environment in which to create, but gain a valuable (not to mention employable) skill. It’s a place that fosters imagination, much like the library that the Courtyard Theatre once housed: a strange reverberation from the past.
 
To round the evening off, the three Erased Tapes pianists take once more to the keys. As they played their encore for six hands, you couldn’t help but wonder what new paths the next wave of pianists might embark on. Theirs is an instrument with over three hundred years of history. Long may it continue.

Words by James Stanfield 
Photo credit: Alex Kozobolis

Happy Piano Day – an open letter from Lubomyr

Happy Piano Day – an open letter from Lubomyr Melnyk picture
It’s Piano Day today, and to mark the occasion, we thought we’d have a chat with Lubomyr Melnyk, resident pioneer of continuous music. We wrote to him with some questions, hoping to get a sense of his relationship to the instrument. What was the first piano piece he remembers hearing? Which composers occupy a special place in his heart? Who or what inspired his unique style; those unbroken reams of notes, and the sustained resonances which hover above them?
 
The response came as a surprise. Luboymr asked if instead, he could write a tribute to the instrument. Naturally, we agreed. Shortly afterwards we received his crie de coeur which we’re now delighted to share with you. In an age of mass production and mass wastage, it’s above all a plea for care and gratitude:
 
"I must apologize for not answering the questions. But there’s a reason why I haven’t done that. It’s because on Piano Day, I think we should not forget the actual instrument and not dwell too much on me. After all, it’s the piano’s day today, not mine.
 
So my thoughts are very deep and full of love for the piano. All pianos; big ones, small ones, great ones, humble ones. All of them are a divine gift to humanity. But people don’t understand that nor are they willing to accept and say thank you to God for this great gift. Instead, people in some countries – like Sweden and Canada – are actually burning pianos and throwing them outside in the garbage dump.
 
Killing their pianos. It’s horrible. It’s unbelievable. There are so many children all over the world in need of a piano and these people are just throwing them away. Huge 300 kilo instruments that took 250 years to perfect, and a deep, profound knowledge of how to make the steel: the beautiful steel that makes that beautiful sound. Everything is dying, even the knowledge.
 
Soon no one will know how to make a piano, and all the machinery will have been destroyed. Like the lacquering machines that made the old Hi-Fi. Hundreds of these precious machines destroyed and burned. The greatest piece of human sound technology in all our history - the analogue Hi-Fi lacquering machine – burned up and thrown away, without even thinking.
 
So it is on Piano Day, I want to remind the world to love every piano as I love them, and to treasure every one forever." 

 
In these images of burned-out machinery, Lubomyr presents a vision of human recklessness. It’s a timely reminder for us to appreciate what we have, and not to squander our accomplishments.
 
When it comes to the piano, artistry does not lie solely with the pianist, but with the makers too. Building a piano is a complex, multi-staged process; there are rims to be pressed, soundboards to be laid, strings to be tuned, hammers to be fitted and much more besides. It’s a craft to be cherished.



Download a free new Nils Frahm EP 'Solo Remains', create, record and share beautiful piano sounds, hear this year's Piano Day playlist featuring new piano songs by Michael PriceÓlafur Arnalds and Rival Consoles, and find out more details on the many events taking place around the world today, including this year’s ‘Give a Piano’ theme via www.pianoday.org

Immix Ensemble & Vessel's 'Transition' available now digitally and on 12"!

Immix Ensemble & Vessel's 'Transition' out now! picture
Immix Ensemble & Vessel's debut collaborative EP 'Transition' is available now on 12" and digitally from our online store! The release focuses loosely on themes of technology, using musical instruments as a snapshot in time from which to expand and explore across four movements.

Watch the stunning visuals for 'Battle Cry', directed by Sam Wiehl, below. Live dates can be found here.


'Trance Frendz' soon available on vinyl & digital!

'Trance Frendz' Given Physical Release! picture
Originally recorded by Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm as part of their 'Collaborative Works', we're giving their transformative 'Trance Frendz' improv session its own vinyl and digital release. Visit our store to pre-order the 12"/DL or get it digitally from iTunes here.

Opening track 20:17 is also available to stream below. Enjoy!


We welcome Immix Ensemble to our family

New Erased Tapes signing: Immix Ensemble picture
Following last night’s world premiere on Mary Anne Hobbs’ BBC Radio 6 Music Recommends show, we’re hugely excited to welcome Immix Ensemble to the Erased Tapes family. Re-listen to ‘What Hath God Wrought?’ from their forthcoming collaborative EP with Vessel, titled ‘Transition’ out March 18.

“A remarkable new piece of music” – Mary Anne Hobbs

· listen · pre-order the 12"/DL · read more


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