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The Decomposing Piano

The Decomposing Piano is a semi-permanent outdoor installation that explores the effects of the Northern Ontario climate on an upright piano at its location at the NAISA North Media Arts Centre in South River, Ontario, Canada. This is inspired by musical explorations in Australia of performing on – and of collecting – ‘ruined’ pianos – pianos left outside in the natural environment for an extended period of time (see https://bolleter.wixsite.com/warpsmusic for further insights).

The Decomposing Piano at NAISA was installed in December 2022 at a point where the upright piano was still playable despite some tuning deficiencies. As time goes on it is expected to become more and more difficult to play. However, in the gradual “decomposition” or “weathering” of the piano over time, new sounds should emerge – some of which might require increasing amounts of aid from recording and amplification to be experienced. Through its entire decomposition process, the public is invited to play the piano at NAISA and experience its transformation until it is deemed unsafe to play. The NAISATube YouTube Channel features a 24/7 webcam of the Decomposing Piano.

Art’s Birthday Weathered Piano Exchange

On January 17, 2024 NAISA is presenting the Art’s Birthday Weathered Piano Exchange which is a collaboration with pianist and composer Jesse Budel. Jesse Budel at the Murray Bridge Piano Sanctuary in South Australia and Nadene Thériault-Copeland at NAISA will exchange recorded improvisations on pianos from their respective locations that will be made into a composition that will be aired on the radio show Electric Sense on CIUT Radio and during a special Art’s Birthday broadcast on CITR in Vancouver called 24 Hours of Radio Art. The improvised recordings form a musical correspondence mixing weathered pianos recorded on location during both the Canadian winter and the Australian summer.

Summer 2023 Fundraising Concerts

In the summer of 2023 NAISA’s Executive Director Nadene Thériault-Copeland hosted a series of fundraising concerts with invited guest performers to join her on the Decomposing Piano.  Audience members were also invited to perform during the interval breaks.

August 26, 2023 – Decomposing Piano and Violin Concert

July 29, 2023 – Decomposing Piano Performances with Julia Breckenridge and Nadene Thériault-Copeland

June 24, 2023 – Duet for Decomposing Piano and ‘Crutch’

June 24, 2023 – Solo Decomposing Piano Performance by Nadene Thériault-Copeland

Ongoing Recordings

These video performances demonstrate the piano at various states of weathering which transform the tuning and keyboard action of the piano, particularly during the winter season.

January 22 2023 – Only 15-20 keys working

January 17, 2023 – Piano Improvisation for NAISA North Re-Opening Party

December 29, 2022 – Three Weeks after being Outdoors

January 17, 2024 – Playing during a snow storm – a little more than one year of the piano being outdoors