Piano & More – Facets of a Versatile Instrument is the theme of the International Conference of EPTA (European Piano Teachers’ Association), which will be taking place from 24 to 27 October 2019.
In the pianistic world, EPTA’s international conferences are perennially popular and always viewed as something special. For this year’s event, which is being organised in cooperation with EPTA Austria and the Ludwig van Beethoven Department of Piano and Harpsichord in Music Education, the University will be welcoming lecturers and panellists from the USA, Canada, and many European countries. Around 250 participants (who teach at universities, academies, conservatories, and music schools) will be present to engage in both teaching-related and artistic exchange. This year’s theme—Piano & More—inspires and moves one to expect an accordingly diverse and interesting range of contributions. Does the word “More” here refer to “more” players? “More” instruments? “More” than just the keyboard? “More” than “just” classical music? “More” than just the piano’s sound? “More” to be heard than just notes? “More” success thanks to the employment of learning amplifiers? “More” than just playing composed notes? Or a sort of “more” in which the piano might assume the role of a resonating body?
´The openness of this theme makes possible—and indeed does include—a wide variety of things. Carol Gingerich (USA) will be speaking on Time and Space – The Piano as a Resonator, while Jessica Johnson (USA) will expand the pedagogical field of play by all-over bodily motion in Exploring Sound Through Musical Embodiment and “Con-Dancing”. Johnson explores ways of integrating the mind, the body, and feelings (at but also away from the piano) into both teaching and practicing. Multisensory and holistic experiences, she points out, are central to finding a sound that’s appropriate to the situation at hand. “Con-Dancing” is her name for a combination of conducting and dance rounded out by video clips and interactivity that aims to establish freedom, natural breathing, and spontaneity as basic parameters of every musical act. “The Piano is Too Loud!”—this is a central exclamation by Miha Haas (SVN) and Gal Faganel (USA) in their Acoustical Considerations and Practical Solutions for Performance of Duo Sonatas with Cello and Piano. They analyse recordings of selected works for cello and piano (by Beethoven, Brahms, and Prokofiev) to first gather examples of acoustic problems that occur when these two instruments play together and then—by means of “listening without seeing”—introduce the audience to various ways of seating the musicians in relation to one another. The results of these analyses and the insights gleaned from “hearing without one’s eyes” are then juxtaposed, perhaps allowing conclusions to be drawn regarding strategies for using the available space onstage. Finally, the issue of volume will take on an entirely different character in the compositions for the space inside the piano by Mathilde Hoursiangou (A) that will be introduced. This conference will thus deliver the aforementioned “more” in quite a number of different respects.
Contributions will also come from the co-organising Ludwig van Beethoven Department: Elisabeth Aigner-Monarth will present TWOgether – Piano and – … An Innovative Approach to Chamber Music for Young Pianists, Albert Sassmann will focus on a special competitive event in The Mauricio Kagel Composition Competition: Putting Contemporary Piano Works for Young Learners to the Test, and Konstantin Semilakovs will present Colour – Music by Scriabin and Messiaen: Revealing the Phenomenon of Synaesthesia. This last-mentioned contribution will illustrate synaesthesia both through the pianistic performance of two short pieces by Scriabin and Messiaen and via theoretical observations. Although these two composers came from different traditions and aspired to differing aesthetic ideals, their conceptions of “colour in music” most decidedly did have certain things in common. Independently of each other, Scriabin and Messiaen arrived at similar basic chord structures and referred to a relationship between the perception of colour and the employment of consonances. Konstantin Semilakovs will also introduce a study in which both musicians and non-musicians tell of their perception of colour in music, allowing certain interpretational conclusions for pianists to be drawn. Furthermore, the Beethoven Department will also be presenting Semilakovs’ work in the form of a “Piano Pedagogical Lab”.
Vienna’s international character makes it an attractive location, and this aspect is lent special emphasis by using Schlosstheater Schönbrunn as one of its locations: there, in the concert “Stefan Gottfried & Friends”, Stefan Gottfried—successor to Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the present-day leader of Concentus Musicus—will be teaming up with Florian Boesch, Andrea Bischof, and Dorothea Schönwiese for a journey back through time to Viennese classicism as it “originally” sounded. Evening concerts are important fixtures of the EPTA Conferences alongside the usual lectures, recitals, and roundtable discussions. And this year’s conference will also see performances by up-and-coming young musicians including players from Vienna’s municipal music schools and the Johann Sebastian Bach Music School as well as ensembles from various universities and conservatories in Austria. The fact that students from different institutions can be brought to the mdw as concert artists is a special sign of positive exchange. And the intent is for just such an open attitude to characterise this entire conference: as a cooperative effort by EPTA Austria and the Beethoven Department/mdw, as a setting for communication between the national EPTA organisations, and as an important meeting place and clearing house for interested educators, artists, and students.
24—27 October 2019
You can find the complete programme at: epta-austria.at