I’m a long-term fan of the piece ‘Vexations’ by Erik Satie, having made a group of nine installations in music practice rooms as alternative interpretations for my final BA degree at Bath Spa University. Since then, I’ve shown various ‘automated performances’ of the piece, and collaborated with others on live events in homage to Vexations.
Vexations is a short piano piece by Satie, which takes on another dimension when his instruction at the top of the score is taken seriously, which asked the performer to play the piece 840 times without a break, very slowly, which can take as long as 24 hours.
Most recently, as a response to the ‘lockdown’ conditions we all found ourselves in
I was very pleased to be invited to join the relay of pianists to perform a ‘half marathon’ (420 repeats) of Vexations at St George’s, Bristol to open their ‘John Cage Celebration’ mini festival on 17th April 2011. This was followed by a recording of the remaining 420 repeats by a ‘virtual’ Charles Hazelwood presented as a video loop on a large screen outside “At Bristol” during the evening.
The concert was opened by Charles Hazelwood and other pianists included Will Gregory of Goldfrapp, and the long term collaborator and friend of John Cage’s, Margaret Leng Tan, well known for her performances with Toy Pianos.
I have programmed my modified toy piano to perform Vexations in the past. Here is a very short extract from it’s solo in the Cube Cinema garden, Bristol in May 2009