TPC Wedding Challenge Stage 2

We continue on with the Wedding Challenge series of articles, featuring the playlist from the second stage “Something New”. My last article featured the playlist from the “Something Old” challenge, so if you want to recap, read the previous “Wedding Challenge” post.

If you remember the old matrimonial rhyme “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”, then the naming of this series will make sense!

The “Something New” stage, called on TPC members, to compose a new wedding march. The much used, “Bridal Chorus” (“Treulich geführt” in German), from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, apparently has a 70% usage rate in weddings across the US, so a new composition could be a lucrative windfall for a savvy composer!

The TPC community had 7 days to write & record their submissions & unfortunately only garnered 4 entries, but they were all gems in their own right.
Enjoy the following playlist & revel in these talented composers from all over the world!

The International Challenge


Ed Haydon – who moderates the Piano Cloud Facebook group – has started a project to compile playlists from some of the creative challenges that the group has enjoyed over the last three years or so. Starting with  the International Challenge from 2013, Ed writes:

“Every so often The Piano Cloud runs a musical challenge. This is the first of a series of posts, which will look back at previous Piano Cloud Challenges. Back in Spring 2013, we were discussing the fact that we had a significant growing number of members from all around the world. The Piano Cloud was becoming a true global village and we were really keen to continue to promote this as an international group.
The aim of this challenge was to express a musical a style which was native to Piano Cloud member’s home country or in the style of a famous artist from their homeland.

Giovanni Sarani (Italy) posted a beautiful traditional ballad from the area defined “delle Quattro province”. The song was freely arranged by Giovanni Sarani and performed by Paola Zadra, Giuseppe Pinna, Giorgio Ghezzi and Giovanni Sarani.
Daniel – aka. Zeit Faktor (Germany) used an old German folk song and decided to make a soundtrack interpretation around it – the results are stunning as I’m sure you’ll agree!
Anthony Marinho (France) pays tribute to his favourite french composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau. Anthony describes his wonderful suite as largely baroque, which integrates some romantic and modern elements.
Andrew Eales (England) paid homage to some of England’s great national composers such as Parry, Elgar, Delius and Finzi in his beautiful submission to the challenge.
Stephan Beneking (Germany) wrote a wonderful piece about the “Loreley”, one of the most famous German sagas. The track is played by the very talented Pamela Chng (Australia).
Jason Cort (UK) and Chris Jolley (UK) produced a beautiful reflection of the United Kingdom’s quirkiness and heritage.
Robert Stadler (Austria) wrote a great piece called Ups and Downs. Though living in Greece for nearly 25 years, Robert’s Austrian influence is still very apparent.
Satomi Uchimura (Japan) submitted a most beautiful track, which was written as an expression of how he feels about his homeland.
Carl Johan Liungman (Sweden) created a fabulous musical picture of his native country Sweden. Carl wanted to describe a beautiful country with a long history of struggling in the wild nature of the North.
And I attempted to take most of my influences from great English composers such as Holst and Vaughan-Williams in an ambitious orchestral arrangement!”

Here is the playlist that Ed has compiled, which I hope you will enjoy as much as I have!

TPC Wedding Challenge Stage 1

weddingOne of the things I really love about “The Piano Cloud”, is the constant challenges presented to the members. As musicians, we can sometimes tread water or loose the spark that keeps our creative juices flowing. This is something I feel the challenges on TPC really do help with: they “challenge” us all to try something a little different to what we normally do and push us all to either end a dry spell or keep the spirit of creativity moving.

TPC Wedding challenge was set up based on an old English rhyme (“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”), and the four objects that the bride adds to her wedding outfit or carries with her on the big day act as good luck charms. Over a few months this Summer, four short challenges would step us through each these themes.

It started at Stage 1, “Something Old”,with entries of music featuring a composer / musician that was dead. For the challenge “Something Old”, Piano Cloud members were invited to submit a brand new version of any piece by a deceased composer, which could be a recording of a classical piece or instead have been their own fresh variation, arrangement or improvisation based on an old tune, such as a folk song, hymn or famous melody.

Some remained close to the  original, while others used it as a start point for some amazing improvisations on the theme. Most of the tracks used only piano, but some members of the community chose to orchestrate their submissions.

Once again, this challenge showed the wide variety of possible interpretations, musical styles and backgrounds within the Piano Cloud group.

Fourteen fantastic tracks by fourteen talented musicians were the result – here is a link to the showcase on SoundCloud:

Look out for my report on Stage 2 of the challenge – coming soon!

TPC Manchester Meetup 2014


TPC Manchester Meetup 2013

Following the success of the Manchester meetup last year at the Royal Northern College of Music we’re planning a repeat event again this year.

The date is Saturday 6th September and we have a room booked at the RNCM with two Steinway grand pianos.

So for those of you that have not been to a TPC meetup what can you expect?

In essence it’s really just a gathering of pianists and we all have fun – at previous meetings we’ve done some or all of the following:

  • Played some of our own music to an attentive audience of our peers
  • Sight-read complex duets
  • Improvised as a group (i.e. jamming), at one point with a total of 16 hands over 2 pianos
  • Chatted about our experiences, our ways of composing, and our techniques

We will also follow-up the meeting with a meal at a local Indian restaurant – not mandatory but great fun to chat in a social setting.

Now for the horrible bit… this costs money to organise and we split the cost between those that attend. Last year it was about £20 per person to cover the cost of hiring the room plus the cost of a meal on top. We’re going to keep the cost the same for the RNCM portion by means of subsidies from Andrew Eales’ own company, Keyquest Music.

So – come along and enjoy meeting up with friends from The Piano Cloud group!

To book your place please contact Terry Robinson via his Facebook Music Page here.

Tom Blankenberg “Lullaby”

This wonderfully simple and romantic lullaby is beautiful. It is quaint, played on a muffled piano, with the sounds of the piano pedal heightening the atmosphere. A lovely melody comes in around 0:30 to carry the song through to a delicate cadence which ends the piece. This contemporary, minimalist lullaby achieves so much despite its short length, and is incredibly easy on the ears. I know you’ll enjoy listening to it!

Theodore Howe “Pain”

“Pain” is a captivating track with a detailed and enjoyable melody. Theo expresses his true inner feelings in the piece, with emotions running high. This is easily one of my favourite of his improvisations in that it truly captures the feelings of despair, pain, and sadness… yet with an almost poignant ‘positive’ sense of entitlement and prosperity to it. The track gives the feeling that despite all the pains and struggles in life, we are all working to the common goal of being successful in life, and the pain is simply something we must endure to get there.

There’s been a lot going on in my life, so much so that I haven’t had a lot of time with the piano. This came out of hitting a brick wall creatively, and I’m still slowly, but surely recovering from that! ~ Theodore Howe

Sometimes the most beautiful creations come out of frustration, but also in taking the time to express what you are truly feeling. I love this track, and I implore you to check out his other pieces.