I went to Marilyn Nonken’s recital at Frederick Loewe Theater, NYU, where she performed new piano works by living composers. Marilyn is a champion of new music (and also one of the first people to know about The Nouveau Classical Project. In fact, she was instrumental [no cheesy pun intended] to the Project getting its start). My favorite piece in particular was “Stress Position” by Drew Baker, a piece with absolutely no rests where the pianist just plays just highest and lowest register in a consistent, driving rhythm. Having the arms spread so far apart (in fact, the widest they can spread on the piano) is not a comfortable position for a pianist.
The music is stark at first, then more notes get added to form very loud chords, at which point the pianist is most likely exhausted. The end is marked to “go for as long as you can go.” Then the lights go off and the piano is amplified, enshrouding the audience in darkness and noise.
Baker said that this piece was a statement about torture technique in which a person is in a dark room where music is played unbearably loud, a matter he wants to bring attention to.
I wish I was able to get some pictures, but I unfortunately could not take photos during the concert. However, I will try to put a video up soon. Stay tuned.