Mechanical Music with David Friend

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For the month of August, Q2 Music invites pianist David Friend to guest host Hammered! A staunch supporter of new and experimental music, Friend is a member of ensemble TRANSIT, the New York City-based piano sextet Grand Band, new-music collective Hotel Elefant and the Bang on a Can Festival Ensemble, which recently performed at the Beijing Modern Music Festival.

For week one of his residency, Friend presents a program of music that pits piano and machine. In some cases, as in the player piano version of George Antheil's 1927 Ballet Mécanique and Conlon Nancarrow's still-revolutionary compositions for player piano, machine takes over completely, offering technical complexity often beyond the reach of human capability.

Elsewhere, as in selections of Ryan Francis's Etudes, performed by Vicky Chow and David Lang's Orpheus Over and Under, the acoustic piano emulates digital effects like digital sustain and loops. Then there's Frederic Rzewski's Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues and Henry Cowell's Encores to Dynamic Motion: man-performed music that offers a political and/or satirical take on the industrial world.

Finally, there's the coming together of the acoustic and synthetic. Carolyn Yarnell's The Same Sky, commissioned by pianist Kathy Supove, and Donnacha Dennehy's Stainless Staining, courtesy of Lisa Moore, marry live piano with tape to achieve mesmerizing (and wildly different) effects. On Annie Gosfield's Lightning Slingers and Dead Ringers for piano and sampler, Moore's keyboard-playing is colored with violent bouts of distortion and digital takes on prepared piano.

Throughout the week, we also hear digitally-inspired and colored music from John Adams (the epic Grand Pianola Music), Daniel Wohl, Jacob TV, Michael Gordon, and Mario Davidovsky.