840 Vexations at Jack Straw

Liberation often arises from frustration. Beginning at 4pm today, 32 pianists will play Erik Satie's Vexations 840 times. I am scheduled to perform from 1:30 to 2... in the morning.

Satie's piano anomaly is deceptively frustrating. The melody wanders, the same pitches are written with multiple spellings, and the curious chords leave listeners drifting in sonic clouds. Yet, with his insistence on repetition (Vexations played 840 times should equal 18+ hours of music) Satie's ideas about the profundity of boredom and the wisdom of returning to a beginner's mind, points to an approach to music that is both decorative and sublime, mundane and extraordinary, as well as frustrating and liberating.

Amazing to think that Satie composed Vexations 100+ years ago in 1893, the same year that the U.S. Supreme Court legally declared the tomato a vegetable. Vexations was first performed in 1963, courtesy of John Cage.

Jack Straw Productions is a fitting location to host this marathon event. I fondly remember many late-night recording sessions in this unique non-profit recording studio. It will be dreamy to play the piano in the middle of the night.

Watch the time-lapse video:

Below is a schedule of the rotating pianists involved in the first-ever Seattle performance of Vexations:
  • 4pm Karin Kajita
  • 4:30pm Chase Hills
  • 5pm William Chapman Nyaho
  • 5:30pm Ann Cummings
  • 6pm Hayley Pike
  • 6:15pm Stanley Whitfield
  • 6:30pm Garrett Fisher
  • 7pm Jennifer Keuer
  • 7:30pm Brian Kinsella
  • 8pm Amy Rubin
  • 8:30pm Michael Owcharuk
  • 9pm Rachel Matthews
  • 9:30pm Aleksandra Tsirkel
  • 10pm Gust Burns
  • 10:30pm Erin Rubin
  • 11pm Roger Nelson
  • 12am Daniel Arthur
  • 12:15am Ann Cummings
  • 1am Dawn Clement
  • 1:30am Byron Au Yong
  • 2am Korby Sears
  • 3am Garrett Fisher
  • 4am Gavin Borchert
  • 5am Rachel Matthews
  • 6am Shenandoah Davis
  • 7am Jensina Byington
  • 7:30am Nicole Truesdell
  • 8am Keith Eisenbrey
  • 8:30am Julie Ives
  • 9am Tito Ramsey
  • 9:30am Kelly Wyse
  • 10am Paul Kikuchi
  • 10:30am Tiffany Lin
  • 11am Wayne Horvitz
  • 11:30am Robin Holcomb
  • 12pm Karin Kajita
  • 12:30pm Roger Nelson
  • 1pm Jennifer Keuer
  • 1:30pm Nicole DeWolf
Preview Articles:
Not in Seattle? Listen to a live streaming broadcast on Hollow Earth Radio.