Edinburgh-based community benefit society Pianodrome has begun construction of a 78-seater structure made entirely of recycled pianos which is due to open to the public in June 2022.
During a proposed four-month residency from June to September this year, the CIC Pianodrome, in partnership with a range of Scottish cultural institutions, will offer artists and audiences a first taste of what it will be like to have a new world-class cultural center. with excellence and accessibility in the heart of our World Heritage City.
The new custom-built Pianodrome amphitheater is a circular structure 10 meters in diameter made up of bleachers incorporating more than 40 pianos whose expiry date has passed. The Pianodrome was commissioned following a relationship with St. Mary’s School of Music and will spearhead community and heritage engagement during the development phase of the new National Music Center.
The new Pianodrome amphitheater will have its world premiere as part of the Hidden Door Festival, with a full program of music, theatre, dance and spoken word events. The culmination of a seven-year creative partnership with Hidden Door, the joint venture is set to bring to life the grand and ornate Calton Hill landmark that has stood largely empty since 1968. A special program of performances is also planned for the Festival Edinburgh Fringe this August. Both teams have yet to be announced.
Building on previous successes with hundreds of performances and thousands of visitors and volunteers across the world’s first ‘Grand Pianodrome’ at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (Fringe 2018), The Pitt, Leith (Fringe 2019) and Leith Theater (November 2019) and most recently the 10 new interactive public piano sculptures of the ‘Piano Trail’ (Leeds International Piano Competition September 2021) Pianodrome will host a full range of walk-in events, workshops and performances you for all ages, abilities and cultural perspectives over the course of four months.
Peter Thierfeldt, project manager for the National Center for Music bid, said, “It’s so great to have a young, creative and dynamic organization like Pianodrome involved in this phase of the formation of the National Center for Music. This custom-built amphitheater will be a welcoming new space of community and heritage engagement within the Old Royal High that will create a sense of wonder and delight for audiences and musicians. Pianodrome works with a range of partners, including some might not consider a building like the Old Royal High, or its location, as a place for them. During the proposed ‘Resonance’, it will be a pleasure to hear musicians of all abilities take the stage, and I particularly look forward to the performances of the students and teachers of St Mary’s Music School. “
On the creation of the new Pianodrome’, producer and director of Pianodrome Matthew Wright commented: “Since inviting the public to play and sit on our recycled piano sculptures, we have been thrilled to be part of an enthusiastic and growing culture of creative DIY expression in the city. The Pianodrome’s new amphitheater is a chance for us to work with this community, and a growing list of partner organizations, to create a welcoming, sustainable, fun and magical musical space where new sounds and ideas can be shared and celebrated by all.”
Director and principal artist of the pianodrome Tim Vincent-Smith said: “In the same way that we at the Pianodrome take beautiful old pianos and give them new life as interactive sculptures, the new National Music Center will take the iconic Old Royal High and really make it to sing. It is a great privilege and a pleasure to have this opportunity to play a small part in the beginning of this wonderful transformation.”
david martinCreative Director of Hidden Door, said: “We are honored to host the world premiere of a new Pianodrome at this year’s Hidden Door Festival in June. As our event breathes new life into Edinburgh’s forgotten spaces, Pianodrome gives new life to abandoned instruments, and through their inspiring creativity, they generate a new space for performers and audiences to experience in a completely unique and often interactive way.
“Their imaginative vision embodies the spirit of the festival, so it is fantastic to work in partnership to put together a program of theatre, music and spoken word performances that will provide unforgettable experiences for all who are lucky enough to find a place at the Pianodrome during the hidden door.”
The Pianodrome would like to thank an anonymous donation which will allow the construction of the made-to-measure amphitheater.
The program for the Hidden Door Festival, including performances at the Pianodrome, should be announced in early March. Other programs for the Pianodrome will be announced in the coming months.