Engineering and drafting students at a Virginia private school are pushing the envelope by attempting a project that no one else is currently doing in a school setting: building a piano from scratch. The two teachers in charge of the project have both said that not even colleges are taking on such an ambitious task. With the help of a 3-D printer, students are designing and creating all the parts themselves.
The project is called STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. The point is to teach the students to combine all the necessary skills and collaborate on the project with each other. They’re required to read blueprints and piano designs from other sources, use the printer to create scaled pieces of the piano and craft the pieces in their regular size by hand.
The teachers have stated that they want the instrument to be of exceptional quality instead of “just a piano.” To that end, they’re expecting exacting tolerances and precise measurements from the students. One of the teachers remarked that the pieces, as designed, would only fit together in one way and in a certain order. Both teachers consider the project to be an excellent starting point on the students’ journey toward different levels of education and later employment. The students keep track of their progress on an engineering blog and are also fundraising to support the project.
Read the project blog at draftengine.blogspot.com
More than 3 million people visit Warsaw each year. Of those, about 200,000 visit the museum dedicated to Poland’s national music hero: Frédéric Chopin.
Officials from the Warsaw Tourist Office have set in motion a plan to bolster both existing and future tourism numbers. Along with tour businesses and vacation planners, their goal is to market Chopin himself as a brand and highlight the composer’s extreme Polish patriotism. They’ve all been working behind the scenes for more than five years, and their efforts have borne fruit. In fact, more people came to see Chopin exhibits in Poland’s capital than came to see football matches during the 2012 European Championship.
Be a Chopin Tourist – take the 3 minute tour in the new museum!
Aside from the museum, there are precious few places left in Warsaw regarding Chopin. German music lovers can visit Beethoven’s house in Bonn. In Austria, musical pilgrims can tour Mozart’s birthplace. Russians can see Tchaikovsky’s home in Votkinsk. In Warsaw, Chopin’s residence is now a paved-over square that contains only a tomb of an unknown soldier. The the palace where Chopin grew up was destroyed during WW2 to punish the Poles for the Warsaw Uprising. Because the Poles have never rebuilt the palace to any extent, all of the efforts to boost “Chopin tourism” seem to smack of self-congratulation. Perhaps it is fitting, in a way. Chopin himself was such a staunch patriot that, after leaving his home country at the age of 20 because of the Russian occupation, he never returned. He is buried in Paris, his tomb adorned with cough drops to soothe his spiritual coughing fits.
Chopin Competition 2015
Central to this year’s musical tourism-building efforts is the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Competition, which takes place every five years. More than 400 piano-playing applicants from all over the world, especially from Asia, are excitedly and anxiously seeking one of the 160 slots in the elimination round and 80 in the finals. The final concerts of this competition usually draws audiences that are at least 10,000 strong.
Despite Warsaw’s lack of physical Chopin landmarks, the efforts of the board of tourism and travel companies are erecting a sort of virtual memorial. The concerts, competition and tie-ins to the Chopin Museum all serve to raise awareness of Chopin’s incalculable influence on the composition of piano music and to honor a man whose fierce pride in his homeland never faltered. That influence has reached all corners of the classical-music world, as can be seen by the variety of nationalities in the applicants to this year’s competition: 88 from Japan, 77 from China and Taiwan, 56 from Poland, 35 from Russian and 34 from the United States. All of them will be competing for the 30,000 Euro top prize and 25,000 Euro second prize.
13-24 April: Preliminary round rehearsals. 80 of 160 pianists will be qualified to Competition recitals
Visit piano maker and experimentalist David Klavins’ workshop in Stuttgart and climb the stairs up to the world’s biggest piano:
The Klavins-Piano Model 370
In October 1987 the Klavins-Piano Model 370 (370 cm high) was introduced to the public. Until today this instrument represents an absolute novum by several means, being an unique example of substantial progress on a field where arguably nothing really new has happened for more than 120 years.
The Klavins-Piano Model 370 is a one-of-its-kind instrument – the Worlds Biggest Piano. Its soundboard has twice the size of a concert grand of 2,75 m, it weighs 2 tons, the longest string has only 3 mm of diameter and a speaking length of 3,03 m; the action is custom made for this instrument by the famous piano action manufacturer Renner in Stuttgart, Germany. It has been listed as well in the German edition of the Guinness Book Of Records.
The construction of the next upright concert grand has now commenced; the Klavins Model 450i – close to 15 feet tall.
Pianist and composer Nils Frahm recorded the album Solo on Klavins’ instruments and will donate all income generated until the financial means building the Klavins M450i are achieved. The anticipated premiere will take place in Berlin 2017.
Download or listen to Nils Frahm’s new album for free at www.pianoday.org
A challenge for both the intermediate pianist and the professional, Debussy’s Clair de lune seems to contain specific qualities which both instrumentalists and listeners find attractive. The piece, which is a part of the composer’s Suite Bergamasque, is the most downloaded piano score in Piano Street’s sheet music library. Due to its popularity it appears in many re-arranged versions for different instruments and in music genres such as jazz and world music.
Did Debussy manage to strike a line between the abstract impressionistic scenery and the beautiful melodic lines of romanticism? Does the open harmonic landscape appear attractive to everyone regardless of musical background? What do you think?
Please post your comment below!
Here we can hear a lovely rendition by the Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski:
“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.”- Claude Debussy
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