Monday 20 August 2012

Piano Colours in the Helsinki Festival

Piano Colours in the Helsinki Festival

On Thursday night my technical assistant Jan-Cees will be driving north from Amsterdam, to catch the night ferry from L├╝beck-Travemunde (Germany) to Helsinki (Finland). The ferry trip alone takes 27 hours! Did you know how far Helsinki is from Amsterdam ? (1500 km/930 miles). 

He's taking my performance gear to the amazing Helsinki Festival, that last year attracted 184,000 visitors. On August 27th, at the Sibelius Academy, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and I will perform our recital Piano Colours, that was so well received at the Aldeburgh Festival. If you missed Bob Singleton's blog On an Overgrown Path (June 27th), check out his delightful piece Has classical music finally found its contact high? He describes our audio-visual partnership as a "revelatory experience".

"In the post-concert talk Pierre-Laurent Aimard described how he watched Norman Perryman's kinetic visuals during (a Concertgebouw) performance, and went on explain that the visuals actually helped mould his interpretation; while from his side Norman recounted how he took visual and aural cues from the pianist. Which was the eureka moment for me - suddenly I understood that Piano Colours was not a solo piano recital by Pierre-Laurent Aimard with added graphics, but a duet for piano and improvised kinetic art, with the same risks and rewards as a conventional duo performance.
A still from Scriabin’s Sonata No.9 at the Aldeburgh Festival

So Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Norman Perryman have created much more than a powerful classical music marketing tool, they have also created a new and notably adventurous performance form. This is a considerable achievement and their pioneering work needs to be taken very seriously." 
My wonderfully analogue projectors, paintbrushes, jam-pots and glass plates.

So rather than a van-load of gear, why am I not just taking all my visuals on an iPad, like everyone else does these days? Because an iPad is merely a digital tool, and I'm a painter, working with analogue means that touch us emotionally. In fact, Pierre-Laurent and I both use a "hands-on" method of communication. My "primitive" overhead-projectors produce analogue coloured light: fluid kinetic images that we respond to in a visceral way. Research published in Nature Neuroscience reminds us that good food, sex and music release dopamine (and a feeling of elation/euphoria) in the brain. So do kinetic visuals with music, believe me! 


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