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Six Pianos - NOSPR

Six Pianos

A sold-out show at the Cologne Philharmonic Hall in May 2016 marked the furious starting point for the collective Six Pianos, originally created and put together by Gregor Schwellenbach with five open- and like-minded international pianists of the same generation. Since then it was performed in the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, the RBB Funkhaus in Berlin,  at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and the Teātra Nams "Jūras Vārti" in Ventspils, Latvia. All of the shows were sold out.

The project takes its title from »Six Pianos«, a minimalist piece for six grand pianos by the contemporary American composer Steve Reich. It was written, completed and premiered in 1973. Reich's idea was originally for a piece titled "Piano Store" that could be played on all the pianos in a piano store. Reich eventually settled on an ensemble of six upright pianos in close proximity, which would allow very precise timing without being masked by the resonance of grand pianos.

»Six Pianos« – written by Reich in between »Drumming« and »18 Musicians« and released to accompany the show-stealing »Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ« – is a solid fan favorite, a lovely piece of music that fits perfectly between his larger, more definitive works. Once you know what to expect from the composer, Reich’s work from this era does exactly what it says on the box: there are six pianos, playing overlapping developments and variations on deceptively simple melodic figures for the piece's duration. Development will happen, but in a such a supple fashion you will be hard pressed to remember what was different between the start of the piece and its conclusion. Everything has shifted, yet nothing has changed.

 

»Six Pianos« is the main piece which is played as the grand finale of the concert. Another highlight marks the recently added »Keyboard Study #2« by Terry Riley - another key gigure of Minimal Music. These two are framed by solo compositions and interpretations performed in varied combinations by the pianists involved. 

 

Gregor Schwellenbach is a composer, arranger and performer based in Cologne, Germany, working in contemporary classical, avant pop and electronic club music. 

He collaborated with artists like Irmin Schmidt (Can), Kölsch, Megaloh, Lambchop and The London Symphony Orchestra. His album »Gregor Schwellenbach spielt 20 Jahre Kompakt«, released for the 20th anniversary of the infamous techno label Kompakt in 2013, gained worldwide recognition and was performed live at numerous festivals and in clubs solo or with ensemble.

 

Drawing on the intersection of contemporary classical and electronic music, Six Pianos features Gregor Schwellenbach, Paul Frick and Daniel Brandt of Brandt Brauer Frick, Erol Sarp of Grandbrothers, Kai Schuhmacher and John Kameel Farah, all of whom have a strong affinity to repetitive Minimal Music and calling Steve Reich one of their major influences.

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