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The six-piano

contemporary music ensemble, Piano Circus, has a history of high-impact education projects and

performance. Piano

Circus’s Kate Halsall

talks about the joys and challenges of working with new music

Piano Circus


the R & D for tomorrow’s classical music

ur 20in09 Festival this year, is our celebration of Piano Circus’s twentieth birthday, with a series of

concerts and educational activity across London. The ensemble, which was formed originally to perform Steve Reich’s Six Pianos piece, has built a reputation for good quality education projects, from one-off compositions and performance workshops, to longer projects such, as our ‘Keyboard Collective’ project, run in partnership with Sound Festival, which we’ve just finished. Workshop projects range from primary school age to post-graduate students, alongside work with adult amateurs, often through Contemporary Music for Amateurs (CoMA). We have worked educationally with the Proms, with schools throughout the UK and


abroad, and with many festivals and collaborators. Our focus is 100 percent on the

excitement of working with ‘new music’. Our repertoire of over 100 works has been written or arranged for us by composers from all over the world, with recent commissions by the likes of Colin Riley, Federico Reuben, Peter Wiegold and Lynne Plowman, helping us achieve one of our key objectives: to evolve and develop the repertoire. An exciting aspect of working in new

music with young people is the thrill of developing a piece creatively together as a class, collaborating with professional musicians and composers. It is essential to help students to engage with new music – which may deal with complex rhythmic patterns and dynamic markings, improvising, unusual and specific scoring or engaging with technologies such as

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