Paul Alan Barker, Composer

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The Actor at the Piano
(Paul Barker & Alban Coombs)
as a part of
THE COLLABORATIVE SPACE:
DIRECTING PERFORMERS’ AWARENESS VIA CREATIVE ROLE-PLAY
at the
Presented and Performed by
Alban Coombs and Paul Barker
 
Performing within a homogenised sound-world, the duo-pianist is both a rival and confidant with his alter ego - the other pianist. Like mirror-images, their separateness and sameness invites visual and spatial as well as aural considerations. Their interactions create a shared embodiment through breathing, signalling, movement and gesture.
Together, they move with and around each other exploring roles of
dominance, submission, rivalry and collaboration. The positioning of the pianists can affect both execution and perception, which in turn can highlight or hide aspects of performance. The minimal staging can reflect Beckettian qualities of restraint and immovability which may accent the gestural element. For the duo-pianist, his alter ego - the other pianist - is a witness in the exploration of artistic and pianistic identity. The creative interactions between the two pianists force them to move beyond their own playing and sound and participate in a greater and more liberated gestural and physical environment.

Loplop Dances was inspired by the processurial obsessions of Max Ernst who created the character Loplop, his own bird-like alter ego and totem described as "a superior bird". The musical structure reflects his obsession with sophisticated collage, and the music avoids both motivic development and individual identity. The cut-and-paste visual techniques transpose to a strong random element in terms of the allocation and
division of material, emphasising a certain aspect of moment form.
Ernst's juxtaposed lines of wood engravings configure a restless energy on the page which is reflected in the score, the choreography of the pianists and the aural patterns. At the centre are the composer and the pianist: or two pianists, two alter egos, either in the sense of Cicero's original definition of a trusted friend or in the later psychological concept of dissociative identity disorder.