Songs Overview: UnCaged Toy Piano Festival Is at Pianos

December 15th, 2013

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

UnCaged Toy Piano Pageant Phyllis Chen playing on Thursday at the nightclub Pianos.

The spirits of John Cage and Charles M. Schulz’s Schroeder converged on the Reduce East Aspect on Thursday evening, when the UnCaged Toy Piano Pageant obtained underway at Pianos, a cozy, noisy nightclub on Ludlow Road. Founded in 2007 by Phyllis Chen — a skillful pianist and composer, a budding impresario and a foremost proponent of the toy piano as a car for severe audio — the festival opened with a efficiency by Margaret Leng Tan.

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Karsten Moran for The New York Moments

Ken Butler executing “Aural Incandescence,” in which organ keys manipulate lights and an amplified string, at the UnCaged Toy Piano Competition.

Ms. Tan, who was celebrating her 68th birthday on Thursday, has prolonged been the toy piano’s most critical and diligent advocate. It made perception that she would occupy a distinguished slot in Ms. Chen’s festival. But it also appeared oddly acceptable, presented the amount of toy-piano fanciers in the place, that Ms. Tan abandoned her familiar keyboard for a new one particular: the Converse-and-Perform, a voice synthesizer produced by the audio artist and inventor Ranjit Bhatnagar.

Making use of the instrument, an digital keyboard that generates samples of Mr. Bhatnagar’s voice intoning forty essential seems employed in English, Ms. Tan performed 5 alternatives from Cage’s “Indeterminacy,” with Mr. Bhatnagar on percussion, radios and toys. The efficiency was by no indicates easy — imagine the title “Cage” rendered as “kh … AY … dhz … uh” and you get the common concept — but it was critical and screwy, befuddling and charming, all at as soon as.

In that perception, the performance was a swift glimpse of a lot that would follow in the present, the initial event in a 3-live performance series that would incorporate an open up workshop on Friday night time and a system with eight entire world premieres on Saturday. Most of the performances could be pretty described as quirky, without having marketing their integrity quick.

The festival’s contact for scores specified audio for “toy piano plus unconventional instrument.” Lukas Ligeti paired the keyboard with a electronic sampler in his bucolic, kinetic “Play Addict,” executed by Ms. Chen. In “Chromotoy A few Sketches one.two,” by Christina Viola Oorebeek, the pianist Tristan McKay performed stark, dramatic figures on a toy piano, blended with a busy electronic soundscape and chattering rhythms from a “soundwheel,” in essence a bicycle wheel mounted upright on a tabletop and amplified.

Peter Koeszeghy’s “Moon Veil,” also performed by Mr. McKay, paired assertive a single-handed chords on toy piano with gently floating melodies blown on a melodica. Tristan Perich’s “qsqsqsqsqqqqqqqqq,” for which Ms. Chen and Cory Smythe joined Mr. McKay, provoked a blissful whirligig with dizzying Minimalist styles and chirping 1-little bit electronics.

Together with these sophisticated items arrived examples of pure allure and whimsy, as in a 6-tune established by Alexa Dexa, who accompanied her hearty, adaptable voice with toy piano, desk bells and other gizmos. Ken Butler, a ceaselessly creative instrument builder, coaxed flashing lights and easy, throbbing melodies from his one-string “K-Board,” more than which blew an incredible trumpet-like solo on a modest strip of latex. And a closing established of a few playful, semi-improvised pieces, played by Matt Evans on toy piano, wooden blocks and knickknacks, invited keen viewers participation.

The UnCaged Toy Piano Pageant concludes on Saturday night at the DiMenna Centre for Classical Songs, 450 West 37th Avenue, Manhattan uncagedtoypiano.org.

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