Wanted: 50 Pianists!

Kristoffer Zegers

"Piano Phasing creates a powerful and imposing sound"

Posted on 21.08.09

HCMF is looking for 50 pianists to take part in a performance of Dutch composer Kristoffer Zegers’ Piano Phasing at this year’s festival. Any player over 12 years old and of ABRSM Grade 5 or equivalent standard can volunteer for the event, which takes place on Monday 23 November at 6.30pm in Huddersfield Town Hall.

With 50 pianists playing 25 instruments simultaneously, Piano Phasing creates a powerful and imposing sound. According to Zegers, the music was inspired by his childhood.

“When I was a little kid I would walk to the local church,” he explains. “I heard the bells ringing along with those from other churches and they were always out of phase. Even when I was young I was fascinated by this music.”

Each player performs the same melody, but at a tempo of their choice, producing a canon effect

“If you have enough people, the differences will make the phasing appear without doing it on purpose.” The piece consists of a fast section, which Zegers describes as sounding “like fireworks”, and a slower one.

“The effect is like a cloud of sound. Sometimes music can be complex to make, but it sounds easy. It’s like looking at the sea’s surface, with all the little waves: they seem very beautiful, but in fact the theory of the wave motion is very difficult.”

It might be tempting to think that Piano Phasing is a response to Steve Reich’s 1967 work Piano Phase, but Zegers insists that the similar titles are a coincidence. “The funny thing, and people don’t believe it, is that I wrote Piano Phasing and then afterwards I heard Piano Phase. I wasn’t very happy that it existed, but then I heard it and I was a little less unhappy, because I think I made a completely different piece.” Whereas Reich’s composition relies upon two parts being played with absolute precision to move in and out of phase, Zegers’ piece uses the differences that arise naturally between a large group of non-professional musicians for its effect.

With the pianos all supplied by Leeds specialists Besbrode Pianos, taking part in Piano Phasing promises to be a unique and exciting experience for the collected pianists. “I think it’s an excellent way of making music, to experience the other players,” says Zegers. “When the piece has taken place in Holland, the people in the room all talk about what it was like.”

Participants will need to attend the following rehearsals and performance:

•    Sunday 15 November, 1pm – 4pm, Besbrode Pianos Showroom, Unit A, Holbeck New Mills, Braithwaite Street, Leeds, LS11 9XE

•    & Sunday 22 November, 1pm – 4pm at Besbrode Pianos Showroom

•    Monday 23 November; 4.00pm – 6.00pm rehearsal at Huddersfield Town Hall; 6.30pm performance at Huddersfield Town Hall

Refreshments and a CD of the final performance will be provided.

To register your interest in performing at this event, please contact Heidi Johnson on 01484 471116; or email h.johnson@hud.ac.uk by Friday 6 November.

Produced by hcmf// supported by Besbrode Pianos

Besbrode Pianos

Besbrode Pianos logo

Kristoffer Zegers’ website (features sound clip of Piano Phasing)