Including more than a dozen world premieres, a led meditation, a queer concert and Radulescu’s Icons in SJSS’s crypt (pianos laid on their sides with their action removed)
St John’s Smith Square is delighted to announce its third full Occupy the Pianos festival curated by pianist and composer Rolf Hind. The numerous concerts from 20-22 April are studded with many freshly-written works and radical takes on music and concert-giving, with new and radical piano music at its core.
The two themes this year are Protest (from the feminist angle in Maxwell Davies to the words of prisoners in Rzewski, from a plea for compassion to animals to radical rethinking of music making from a queer angle) and The Journey Within. These themes don't merely relate to the music chosen but the manner of presentation: so the second main day – The Journey Within - will gradually dissolve into audience participation with everyone ending up downstairs in the cafe together, by way of a concert conducted as a led meditation with Eliza McCarthy.
To quote Rolf Hind: “St Johns’s Smith Square is only a stone’s throw from Parliament Square, site of protest and agitation for hundreds of years. In keeping with our name, this year’s programming considers politics and protest. At the same time - reﬂecting the beautiful, serene space in which we ﬁnd ourselves in this church, the festival’s 2nd day will move towards spirituality and the journey within, offering new ways for the audience to encounter music and their experience of it.”
There will be more than a dozen new works over the weekend, placing the focus on future directions for the piano, a focus also highlighted by the appearance of the extraordinary Magnetic Resonator piano in Rolf Hind's Friday night recital. There has been a Call for Scores (Occupy the Pianos received over 100 new pieces in the past) and the weekend begins with a workshop on writing for the piano, with further pieces dropped into the weekend as surprises.
Increasing the sense of fluidity between events there will be two of Radulescu's Icons housed in the crypt. These Icons are grand pianos laid on their sides which have had the action removed and are then played in unique ways. At the end of the festival there will be a chance for members of the public to improvise on these instruments themselves.
Don’t miss the concert “On a Queer Day” on 21st April at 4pm, where several pieces will be introduced by an investigation of what it means to play Bach queerly and later that evening at 7.30pm there is Kagel's Staatstheater, a surreal theatre piece, funny, disturbing, and politically engaged, which takes apart the whole concert hall experience, and doesn't really put it back together again!
Also on the 20th there is a must see performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’ extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a mad, wronged woman – uniquely in this case the role of Miss Donnithorne is shared by two of our most exciting vocalists, Elaine Mitchener and Loré Lixenberg.
The musicians involved in Occupy the Pianos are hand-picked by Rolf Hind: creative, multi-faceted and collaborative. To quote Rolf Hind: “As well as being wonderful players they are thoughtful and curious about repertoire, and willing to take part in different elements of the weekend which gives it a joyful, collegiate feel. In each festival new players are added to the mix, fascinating young players often at the beginning of their careers. Not necessarily the "prize-winners" but brilliant musicians with a distinctive edge and profile. At the festival’s heart is an ever-growing team of brilliant musicians whose approach is outward looking, unconventional and curious. The collegiate communal spirit of that group has made Occupy the Pianos such an adventure. An adventure that continues…”