Beyond the Keyboard: The Music of Stephen Scott DVD

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A Brief History of the Bowed Piano Ensemble - By Stephen Scott, March 2014

Stephen Scott founded the Bowed Piano Ensemble in 1977.  Eight Colorado College students and two faculty members (Scott and Curtis F. Smith) were assembled from the larger New Music Ensemble (founded 1972) to rehearse and perform on tour the first piece ever composed for bowed piano ensemble, Scott’s Music for Bowed Strings (later renamed Music One for Bowed Strings).  There were two devices used, the “soft bow,” modeled on an invention by Curtis Otto von Bismarck Curtis-Smith (no relation to Curtis F. Smith), a Michigan composer who was the first person we know of to sound the strings of a piano with nylon filament, and the rigid bow, invented by Scott with a bit of kibitzing from the other players.  The piece was one of several new-music compositions performed by the New Music Ensemble in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas that spring...

Now comes the bittersweet part.  Because Stephen will retire from teaching at the end of this academic year, the Bowed Piano Ensemble as we know it will cease to exist, at least at Colorado College.  Quite a few musicians have borrowed or studied some of the techniques developed and deployed by the Ensemble over the decades, and the probable extension of Stephen’s work with afore-mentioned temporary “colonies” may continue to keep the music alive in different ways and different places.  And there are the recordings…


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