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Review - Premiere of Hauschka and the Prepared Piano at the Rokcolectiv Festival

Friday, 20 April 2012 , ora 9.28
Music can sometimes be secondary to some interesting and unique artistic acts that can be synonymous with originality in the art of sound. Whether we talk about Modified musical instruments, about futuristic video projections, objects as diverse as electronic tapes or textures inspired by nature, the universe of sound is nowadays in a continuous mix. It is under these circumstances that the Rokcolectiv Festival, an event that promotes contemporary art - regardless of its origin, has been taking place in Romania. The 7th Edition, hosted by the National University of Music Bucharest opened with Hauschka, an artist deeply rooted in the spirit of postmodern music, in his first concert in Romania. The German composer and pianist stunned the Romanian audience on Thursday, 19th April, with the sounds that came out of the prepared piano, which had its Steinway chords full of Ping-Pong balls, chains, crayons or boxes. The artist has transformed the piano into a playground full of magic and colour, which managed to enchant over 350 young people attending the concert.

It's all a game

We get more details about the participation in the festival and about his passion from the artist himself, who claims that the entire evening was marked by improvisation.


"A few months ago I received an e-mail in which I was invited to take part in the festival. I have never been in Bucharest before, it is the first time I am here and I am thrilled I do enjoy this type of festival because it is a combination of piano music, vocal music and as well as other arts. I write a lot of music on the computer, I conduct music for other composers; I even used to be in a hip-hop band, so I do combine a lot of types of music together. At one point I was fascinated by the use of electronics on stage because at home I used to just play my piano and I thought it would be great to incorporate the electronic sound with my piano sound, but without the help of technology.

I was particularly keen on percussion sounds, airplane sounds and engine sounds so I started using different materials. I was soon to find out that if you place certain objects on the chords, you would get the sounds made by a snake, that wood sticks would make sounds and I could gather all these elements and give them rhythm.

It's all a game to me. When I put the Ping-Pong balls on the piano, they started bouncing around and eventually hit the strings of the piano, but it all happened unplanned and this awoke my curiosity to see how the chords would align. To a certain degree, it's happenstance, but I also find myself having to hound with my mind something, an object. I also use chains, plastic bottle caps and wood materials. The entire performance was an improvisation. I am usually inspired by the instrument I play, because each instrument has a different resonance. This one, for example, was very delicate, requiring a gentler touch.

In time I got used to working with different pianos; some were good, others were not. But I adapted the pieces so as to be able to play them on any given instrument. Tonight I tried many new things; I stopped, then started again. For me it's a good thing, it's part of a much needed conversation with the public and it gets listeners involved. It's as if, somehow, they can watch me in my living room while I try new things. "

In full accordance with today's trend

Hauschka and his prepared piano received positive reviews from the Romanian public. The first concert of the 7th Edition ended, after a short break, with the recital of the offbeat Estonian singer Maria Minerva.

The festival dedicated to contemporary electronic music headlines artists from UK, U.S., France, Bulgaria, Germany and Romania. The repertoire is diverse just as the times are.

Janina Bădici
Translated by Vlad Bîrsan and Mihaela Melneciuc
MTTLC, University of Bucharest