A Fallen Piano is Resurrected at Jack Straw

by Maggie Molloy

Fifty years ago, an upright piano flew from the sky and crashed loudly upon the ground near Duvall, Washington, smashing into pieces in front of an audience of avant-garde enthusiasts. It was dropped from a helicopter by the Jack Straw Foundation (then in the form of KRAB radio) as a fundraising event for the experimental radio station and their friends at Helix, the hippie newspaper.

1968 press clipping from the Seattle Times.

This month, that historic piano is being resurrected in the hands of local composers—and it’s not too late to get in on the action.

The Jack Straw Cultural Center is currently accepting submissions for new works scored for the illustrious instrument’s remains (the soundboard and harp—minus the bass strings, if we’re getting specific). The tuning of the strings is as-is, allowing for a wide array of delightful and unexpected surprises—and fingers, mallets, and bows are all fair game. The maximum length for submissions is 4’33” (a tribute to John Cage’s iconoclastic “silent piece”), and submissions are accepted as written scores or demo recordings.

Submissions are due Jan. 7, and the selected compositions will be performed and recorded at Jack Straw in February and incorporated into a Piano Drop installation in the New Media Gallery.

Interested composers can email arts@jackstraw.org or call them at (206) 634-0919 with any questions, or to schedule a time to visit the instrument in the gallery.

The Opening Reception for Jack Straw’s Piano Drop Installation will take place Friday, Feb. 8 at 7pm. A live performance of the new works will take place Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7pm. Both events are free and open to the public. Click here to learn more.

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