Curated by writer, academic, and playwright Jane Taylor, Season 4 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea takes the shape of a Collapsed Conference – a series of talks, presentations and ideas all told through performance.
COLLAPSED CONCERT | PART 2 by Kyle Shepherd
The Centre for the Less Good Idea’s Season 4 performance of the Collapsed Concert is, in a sense, a lecture delivered through the medium of performance.
Featuring Jill Richards and Kyle Shepherd, two of the countries most talented and celebrated pianists, the Collapsed Concert is a rich and detailed set of performances carried out on an immaculate Steinway Grand.
Richards was first to take the stage and chose to perform Pierre Boulez’s Piano Sonata No. 2. Richards, who’s performed across five different continents, is a Steinway artist known for her dynamic interests in Bach as well as free-form improvisation. Still, Boulez’s Piano Sonata No. 2 is a notoriously difficult piece to perform, let alone master, but Richards handles the piece with a discipline and precision that can only result from years of performance. Employing Serialism in its composition, the Piano Sonata No. 2 requires a great deal of attention and physicality from its performer – everything from the way a hand touches down on a chord, to the measured breath and metered posture of the pianist.
Listening to Richards is, of course, crucial to the performance, but watching her perform under a single spotlight is a uniquely rich experience, too. Throughout her performance a small, muted light illuminates the inside the piano, reflecting them onto the cover. It is here where you can almost witness each note as it vibrates and rises out of the piano to fill the room around you.
Next up was Shepherd with a counter-example – his own Jazz composition. Shepherd’s career has taken him across the globe and after years of concert piano performance, he’s focussing his attention more on composition. Voices is one of these new compositions and makes use of various spoken, non-musical, and other aural recordings. In Voices, Shepherd is not only using these sounds and recordings to enhance and form part of his own performance, he is also constantly in conversation with them. Through the live use of a sampler, Shepherd cues ambient loops and vocal samples of musicians such as Lionel Loueke and Zim Ngqawana which are incorporated seamlessly into the piece before being responded to through the keys of the piano.
In this musical dialogue with sound and meaning, rhythm and improvisation, Voices invites its audience to listen in on the conversation, and to pay attention to the many shapes and colours sound can become. Strings jammed with sheets of paper take on a sound outside of the piano’s conventional range and long, flourishing moments on the keys form new languages in response to the spoken word.
With both Richards and Shepherd lending their talent to a host of other performances across the Season, getting a chance to see each musician perform solo is a welcome addition to Season 4. The Collapsed Concert not only showcases and contrasts the work of two of the country’s top performing pianists, it also prompts audiences to listen more deeply, and to engage with lines of thought through the medium of sound.
For the full version go to | https://vimeo.com/301815995
Performers | Jill Richards, Kyle Shepherd
Animateur for The Centre | Bronwyn Lace
Cinematography and Editor | Noah Cohen
Project Manager | Shruthi Nair
Lights | Wesley France and Guy Nelson
Sound | SoulFire Studios and Zain Vally
Stage Management | Hayleigh Evans and PopArt Productions
Writer | Dave Mann