Call for scores: multi-hand piano duets for sightreading competition

To composers: Call for scores for multi-hand piano duets (many hands on one piano) for a sight-reading competition in San Francisco deadline 5 April 2011.

Advertisements

On Sunday 15th May 2011 at probably the first sightreading competition of its kind, pianists will attempt to read and play multi-hand piano duet music that they have not seen and played before. The location: a loft apartment in San Francisco with a Steinway grand piano.

On Chappell Piano. Photo: Jacqueline Stretton-Chang, London
On Chappell Piano. Photo: Jacqueline Stretton-Chang, London

What is a multi-hand piano duet?

The simplest is two hands. Next is 3 hands. The popular one is 2 pianists on one piano. The challenge is to write music for more than two pianists.

The composition should meet the following criteria:

  • readability & page-turnability
  • playability
  • repeatability: i.e. the pianists want to play it again or share it with others. There should be an element of fun, intrigue, challenge, or something that prevents one from dismissing it and putting it away on the shelf to be forgotten.
  • length: 2 to 5 minutes (this can be extended to 10 minutes at normal tempo indicated)
  • difficulty: allow players of different levels to play together

For an indication of the difficulty level, please visit a piano soiree that was held in the same place previously. This is a piano club that gets together regularly to have fun. We want to introduce music for several pianists to play together. Sight-reading levels of pianists are usually always lower than performance levels, i.e. the difficulty should be lower than the solo performance repertoire.

Deadline: 5 April 2011

Submission format: e-mail PDF

If your piece is selected, you will get the following benefits in kind:

  • interview & write-up on this blog
  • publicity of your music that was selected
  • feedback from the pianists

Please use the following LEAVE A REPLY form to express your intention to submit. You will get a reply with an e-mail address to submit your score to. Your comment will not be published.

PERSONAL NOTE:
I was first introduced to multi-hand piano duets at my Steinway Welcome Party in Bussum, Netherlands. There were many pianists and two pianos. 4 pianists on 2 pianos. 3 pianists on one piano. One can imagine the possibilities.

ADDENDUM @ 3 Feb 2011:

Please include a description of the piece, such as what inspired you, techniques and challenges, or anything unique about the piece. Provide a link to your website or biography. This blog will get updated and refined over time as questions arise.

Makawao concert poster and CD

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo releases Live in Makawao CD of their first public concert in the USA — 29th December 2007. Included are music for piano and guitar for 3 centuries.

A framed poster of our first public concert in the USA hangs on my mother’s wall. It’s the only one that survives today.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo concert at Makawao Union Church, December 2007
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo concert at Makawao Union Church, December 2007

The CD will soon be available on CDBaby and at all concerts that Robert Bekkers plays on his solo concert tour. Our hope is that it will sell out to enable us to reinvest in arranging more music for piano guitar, collaborate with other enthusiastic music lovers and musicians, and encourage more composers to write for this combination.

The piano and the guitar are rarely heard today as a classical duo. At this concert in December 2007, which has been recorded and released on CD Live in Makawao, you can hear original music written for piano and guitar from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

While we have to research the origins of the earlier works, we have only to e-mail or speak to the composers in the 21st century.

Haarlem-based guitarist and composer Erik Otte was the first person to write for our duo. He dedicated the 4-part Rio de la Plata to us. With South American influences, the music is about love. The first movement opens with a bang, symbolising a break-up. The fourth movement is very energetic (below).

We invited Amsterdam-based composer Allan Segall to the premiere of Rio de la Plata at the “Mustard Seed” in Santpoort for he could not believe that a piano and guitar could be a feasible duo. After hearing Otte’s piece, Allan stood up and announced that he would write something for us.

Segall’s “When JS Bach, Igor Stravinsky, and the Who Met” is a challenging and terribly exciting piece. It’s extremely demanding to get it together. Segall suggested that we watch “Tommy” to get the feel of the rock musical which is embedded in the piece. It’s the only work in which the guitar overpowers the piano.

Once these pieces were added to our repertoire, we started actively looking for composers to write for our duo. Utrecht-based Henk Alkema wrote “Sailor Talk” on a programmatic subject he knew well for he loves sailing. We premiered it at the Cortona Contemporary Music Festival in 2007.

At the same festival, we played Toronto-based Lan Chee Lam’s “Drizzle.” The Dutch audience especially love this piece — kind of oriental and exotic. Lan Chee is the youngest composer to have written for our duo. She finally came to the Netherlands in January 2010, for the premiere of another work of hers.

Lan Chee Lam, composer of "Drizzle" in Utrecht, Feb 2010
Lan Chee Lam, composer of "Drizzle" in Utrecht, January 2010