featuring Blair McMillen as pianist/vocalist/percussionist/improviser

Blair McMillen‘s “No Holds Barred” program is about exploration and liberation: musical and pianistic exploration, and being liberated from simply playing one’s instrument in the “this is what every teacher I took lessons from told me to do” way.

“No Holds Barred” centers around a contemporary classic: George Crumb’s extended-technique-filled, otherworldly second book of Makrokosmos.  Jazz clarinetist Don Byron’s infective, jazzy etudes incorporate quite a bit of vocalizing from the pianist, as well as some rhythmic “help” from the audience at one point.  Along the way, Blair “gets to play entire pieces in ways I never would have imagined as a naïve elementary school piano geek growing up in North Carolina,” with an arsenal of instruments and accessories including the melodica, a toy piano, two baseballs, a catchers mitt, and various other small percussion instruments.

With this program, Blair McMillen officially embraces this multifarious, multitasking age with gusto.  No holds barred.  See you at the finish line.

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Works to be performed on the “No Holds Barred” program include:

Don Byron, 7 Etudes, for vocalizing pianist
John Cage, The Wonderful Widow of 18 Springs
David Rakowski, Toyed Together (for toy piano and piano)
Rakowski, Schnozzage
Rakowski, You Blew It (for melodica and piano)
Annie Gosfield, October 5, 1941 (with baseballs/catchers mitt)
George Crumb, Makrokosmos, Book 2