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Kate Ledger/Monica Pearce: Performer/composer perspectives on exploring the physical limitations of piano and toy piano performance

Tuesday 10 May 2022, 4.00PM to 5.30pm

Speaker(s): Monica Pearce & Kate Ledger

In this seminar, composer Monica Pearce and pianist Kate Ledger will discuss and workshop studies in restriction, their collaborated work that explores ideas of restraint, physicality and technique around piano and toy piano performance. Each study of the set investigates a specific physical or instrumental limitation - sometimes playfully, sometimes less so. In addition, Monica Pearce will discuss compositional approaches to toy piano and piano in her work.

As part of Late Music, the world premiere for studies in restriction will take place on Saturday 7 May, 13:00 in the Unitarian Chapel, York.

About the speaker(s):

Monica Pearce is a Canadian composer specializing in opera, chamber music and everything toy-piano-related. She was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada, began her professional career in Toronto, and recently relocated to Brownsville, Texas after a couple of years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pearce’s work has been performed and commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, International Contemporary Ensemble, New Music Detroit, Array Ensemble, Talisker Players, Essential Opera, Bicycle Opera Project, TorQ Percussion Quartet, junctQín keyboard collective, and Thin Edge New Music Collective, among others. Her operas have been performed across Canada and the United States, and toured across Ontario, and her toy piano works are frequently played internationally. She is working on her debut album, a multi-work piece entitled Textile Fantasies. She won the Harry Freedman Award for her harpsichord work toile de jouy, commissioned by Wesley Shen with support from the Canada Council for the Arts. Most recently, she was nominated for the East Coast Music Association's Classical Composer of the Year (2022).

Monica co-founded the emerging composer collective the Toy Piano Composers in 2008 with Chris Thornborrow. From 2008 to 2018, the Toy Piano Composers presented over 120 new works and released their debut album Toy Piano Composers. She is also active as a librettist and has worked with composer Cecilia Livingston on a Dora-nominated opera on the life of Anne Frank entitled Singing Only Softly. Monica’s written works have been performed by Loose Tea Theatre, Musique 3 Femmes, Bicycle Opera Project, Opera Nova Scotia, Vocalypse Productions, Caution Tape Sound Collective, and the Toy Piano Composers.

Kate Ledger is a pianist, collaborator and educator specialising in embodiment, spirituality and authenticity via experimental artistic practice. She is currently completing her PhD that collaborates with composers to examine how notation directly affects her movement. Here, with the help of Feldenkrais methodology and spiritual practice, she is playing either with or against her habitual performing movements. This is revealing many ways in which to write for the body, enhanced by the uniqueness of each composer. Notable collaborations include her work with Ray Evanoff and Ben Isaacs, with whom she began to develop her understanding of touch and sound using composed, constraining notational systems. She continues to develop this today through a wider awareness of the performing body, its links with meditation and yoga, and its effective contribution to sound production.

She studied at the University of Huddersfield with Philip Thomas between 2003-2009 and has since studied with Ian Pace. She has played across Europe and the UK as a soloist or with a number of ensembles, including Heather Roche, Peyee Chen, Distractfold and Dark Inventions. In 2014, she premiered Steven Takasugi's The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Laughing (2009) with Distractfold and won the Kranichstein Music Prize for Interpretation at the International Summer Course for New Music Darmstadt.

Join via Zoom

Meeting ID: 974 1147 1887

Passcode: 030134

Location: D/003 (Sally Baldwin Buildings, D Block)