Piano Circus' education work has consistently formed a major strand of its activity, stemming not only from the individual members' commitment to learning and reaching new audiences, but also from the six-piano medium's unique facility in bringing people together to make music, no matter what their skill level or musical experience.
Our work in this field is extremely varied and can accommodate large or small groups from beginner to professional. Projects are individually tailored to the event but recent activities include:
Large group performances of works including Louis Andriessen's Workers' Union and Modules – an ever-evolving piece by Piano Circus for unspecified number of pianists from beginners to advanced players.
Modules, for which no preparation is required from participants, steadily and clearly introduces aspects of Piano Circus' performance practise and musical style; exploring pulse, rhythm, chamber music rehearsal technique and communication skills, harmony, listening skills and traditional and extended piano techniques, whilst creating a highly engaging post-minimalist tapestry of sound.
Masterclasses in multi-piano performance and contemporary repertoire
Workshops with composers writing for multiple pianos:
Several members of the group are active composers and arrangers, so we are qualified to work with composers on both practical issues such as co-ordination, type-setting and playability, as well as (where appropriate) more musical/compositional matters.
TED-style talks on our repertoire, history and aspects of arts management and a career in music.
A Piano Circus ‘speciality’ is involving large numbers of pianists playing simultaneously, with everyone from beginners to diploma level pianists all being fully engaged and involved. As much of our own performing repertoire has an emphasis on minimalist techniques and rhythmic patterns, so we use these sorts of techniques and devices as basic material for workshops. Minimalist music allows a build up of simplicity and complexity simultaneously, allowing all participants to feel involved and challenged regardless of their musical ability.
We have established strong relationships with several keyboard, performance and composition departments in many universities, schools and conservatoires, most notably Brunel University, where we are artists-in-residence.
“Piano Circus launched the new academic year at the RWCMD with a project that fired the imagination of piano and composition students alike. Their energetic workshops, and the tremendous student performance on the final evening, introduced the young musicians to new and essential challenges, and revealed the extraordinary dynamism of this art-form. Many of the piano students involved in the project have gone on to form multi-hand piano teams of their own, and will no doubt be calling on the composition students to provide them with repertoire! It has been a real pleasure to prepare this project with Dawn Hardwick over the past months; her sympathetic approach to the needs of the students, and her constant flow of superb suggestions at every step of the process, enabled us to create a truly memorable event that will stay in the memories of our students for years to come.”
John Hardy, Head of Composition, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama