Ashley Bieniarz

Official site for Winnipeg-based pop pianist Ashley Bieniarz.

John Cage Prepared Piano Performance

With my interest in 20th century music, Professor Horton and I decided to work on some prepared piano pieces composed by John Cage. I had the opportunity to perform the pieces in a Midday recital for my classmates and it was one of the most terrifying experiences. I avoid performing in front of my classmates as much as possible. Performing classical music confidently isn't exactly my strong point, although I had been working on it throughout the four years of my degree.

Prepared piano is a 20th century style of performance where with objects placed on or between the strings, or some strings retuned, to produce an unusual tonal effect. In the case of the two pieces I played, I needed two separate pianos because the preparations were different for each. Weather stripping, Stove bolts and wood screws were used and before I came on to give a little explanation about the pieces, Professor Horton came onto the stage and set the preparations in front of everyone. 

I was so nervous my eyeballs were vibrating. Luckily I made it through the performance and was alarmed by the warm and receptive applause. I was beaming and this is definitely one of my proudest moments of my degree.

Once I was finished many students, mostly composition majors, rushed to the stage to see what the preparations looked like. It was so exciting since prepared piano isn't performance very often 

Here is some footage of the live performance.