January 25, 2012

Vikings of the Sunrise

The University of Hawaii Contemporary Music Ensemble, a group I direct, is taking on a unique piece this Spring. Stephen Scott‘s Vikings of the Sunrise is a piece written for an ensemble of 10 performers, all playing a single piano. But most of this piece isn’t played on the keys. Instead, the ensemble plays directly on the strings by striking them with piano hammers, plucking with guitar picks and – perhaps most notably – bowing the strings with rosined fishing line.

We’re all excited to be performing the first part of this piece here in Hawaii, especially since it’s a work that directly connects to this place (the subtitle of the piece is “Fantasy on the Polynesian Star Navigators”). For the past few weeks, the ensemble has been working to prepare the piano by placing bows on the strings, labeling strings, and constructing “bow traps” (devices that keep the bows from tangling when not in use). It’s been a great adventure for us so far, and we’re looking forward to working with the composer himself in preparation for the concert in April.

Here are some photos of the preparations in progress:

(Updated: I’ve also included some photos from the concert)

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