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Going inside the piano

A grand piano is a great instrument. It has amazed us for years now with its ability to touch many chords with an expert musician at its keys and its bulky body has been used as a substitute for a stage by a few singers. But there is more to it than that and Greek composer and sound artist Stavros Gasparatos will show just how much more on Monday in Limassol when he takes us inside the piano.

Gasparatos will perform as part of his Expanded Piano project, which will transform the Rialto theatre into a giant piano as the pianist plays his prepared piano piece. Unlike his avant garde predecessors of the last century, Gasparatos installs no foreign objects in the piano. Rather, a finely tuned array of microphones capture the different tones of the piano and passes them to the computer, which then triggers prepared sounds and processes the live piano simultaneously. Contact microphones capture impulse responses from within the piano itself and construct frequency filters based on the results. Each filter then sculpts one of the 24 speaker channels so that each speaker amplifies a specific point from inside the piano and projects it into the audience.

Prepared piano is a perfect example of how thinking differently and reconfiguring available technologies can transform how you make music, and Gasparatos surely thinks and makes music outside the box.

This fascination with making the piano do what it had never done before started in the mid-20th century when composers like John Cage and Henry Cowell started placing cardboard, metal and their hands between the strings of a piano. By doing this they created a machine for triggering fascinating percussive tones, which were less like music for a concert hall and more like the sounds coming from a construction site.

The prepared music that Gasparatos will perform explores the physical properties of the piano in a multitude of ways. He deals with space, texture and impact to put a 21st century twist on the boundaries of music.

Gasparatos mainly composes music for dance, theatre and cinema. His music has been performed in all major Greek theatres and concert venues (including the ancient Epidaurus theatre, the Onassis Cultural Centre, and the Megaron Concert Hall) and also in London, Macao, Napoly, Berlin, Toronto, Sofia, Amsterdam, Paris and New York. He is a frequent collaborator of the National Greek Theatre.

He has composed music for over 100 productions and is considered as one of the most important and prolific composers of the new Greek generation as well as a brilliant musician and virtuoso performer.

Stavros Gasparatos: Expanded Piano
Live performance by the pianist. February 22. Rialto theatre, Limassol. 8.30pm. €10/7. Tel: 77-777745

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