- Professor Ian Pace (Principal Investigator)
Dr Ian Pace has created new techniques and strategies which enhance the understanding and perception of contemporary piano music for audiences around the world.
Dr Pace has collaborated with numerous composers and engaged in extensive public performances to develop musical repertoires which combine ‘tradition’ with new approaches to pianistic technique and musical notation.
The result of his research has allowed composers to create complex works, expanded new forms of musical expression and attracted new audiences to contemporary piano music.
What did we explore and how?
Dr Pace’s work encompasses four key areas: developing pianistic technique; influencing the creative process; devising innovative interpretative strategies; and establishing new repertoire.
Using methods from his own teacher, György Sándor, Dr Pace’s research extends and modifies traditional pianist techniques to encompass new challenges which have created new physical and sonic possibilities for the instrument.
Dr Pace has collaborated with composers and performers to explore metric, rhythmic, contrapuntal and timbral relationships which also incorporate pianistic practices such as key noise, pedal noise, hyper-virtuosity, extremes of stasis and reconfiguration of the physical comportment of the player.
This research has initiated new approaches to the performance of complex notation, the relationship between notation and interpretation and the relationship of contemporary compositions to pre-existing musical works, styles and genres.
Benefits and influence of this research
The output and influence from Dr Pace’s research into contemporary piano repertoire is unparalleled.
Since 2013, it includes over 80 world premieres given in nine different countries and appearances at major European venues and festivals. Since 2010, Dr Pace has also recorded 16 CDs, including Michael Finnissy’s landmark five-and-a-half-hour piano cycle The History of Photography in Sound (HoPiS), which has been broadcast across the world.
The HoPiS album was met with critical acclaim, was the best-selling digital title on the Metier new-music label for five months after its 2013 launch and remains in the top quartile for that label. By the end of September 2019, streaming figures had reached 17,845, a significant figure for modernist piano music.
Dr Pace’s research has helped influence and developed works such as Wieland Hoban’s Whiptail (2017) and Evan Johnson’s qu’en yoje on vous demaine (2018).
In 2018, 23 international composers wrote new music to celebrate Dr Pace’s 50th birthday and his achievements in this field; this included new works by renowned composers such as James Dillon, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Sadie Harrison and Walter Zimmermann.
BBC Radio 3 also broadcast a two-hour special episode of ‘Hear and Now’ during that year dedicated to Dr. Pace’s work, the first time that an entire episode of the programme had been devoted to a single performer.
Speaking about Dr Pace’s influence, British composer Christopher Fox, said: “The dynamism of [Dr Pace’s] playing and his understanding of how the contact between hand, key, hammer and string can release sonority has led me and many other composers to rethink how the piano can sound.”
Viewing figures for Dr Pace’s blog, which often deals with issues of contemporary piano performance, have reached 545,669 during this REF period. His performances and collaborations on YouTube have also received significant views.