Lakeside Arts
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Lakeside Arts
Event Detail
Xenia Pestova Bennett & Pascal Meyer, toy pianos

Tête-à-Tête – New Music For Toy Piano

Sunday 29 November, 12noon
Online Event

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Helen Papaioannou Glow Sticks
John Cage Music for Amplified Toy Pianos
Duncan MacLeod By the Light of The Moon 
Nina C. Young Tête-à-Tête
Duncan MacLeod Cut, Strike, Throw, Grip

This mini-programme explores a wide range of music for toy pianos performed by pianist and University of Nottingham director of Performance Xenia Pestova Bennett, who is joined by celebrated Luxembourger pianist Pascal Meyer. The programme combines recordings made in 2019, alongside recent performances recorded remotely during lockdown. 

This transatlantic programme features works by American composer’s John Cage and Nina C. Young alongside world premieres by Sheffield-based composer Helen Papaioannou and University of Nottingham Assistant Professor of Music Composition Duncan MacLeod. 



To see full line up, please visit the main festival page  Blue arrow linking to festival main page

About the artists (click to expand)

Xenia playing toy piano

Pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett is an innovative performer and educator. Described as “a powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo), “stunning” (Wales Arts Review), “ravishing” (Pizzicato) and “remarkably sensuous” (New Zealand Herald) in the international press, she has earned a reputation as a leading interpreter of uncompromising repertoire alongside masterpieces from the past. Dr Pestova Bennett’s commitment and dedication to promoting music by living composers led her to commission dozens of new works and collaborate with major innovators in contemporary music. She is also co-director of NottFAR.

Pascal Mayer sits in black lit room with shining light behind

Pascal Meyer is a versatile pianist with a strong commitment to unconventional repertoire. He is a member of the Luxembourg contemporary music ensemble United Instruments of Lucilin and has appeared at numerous festivals such as Holland Festival, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Manifeste, Musica, Rainy Days, Archipel, Ars Musica, Voix Nouvelles, Musikhost, and Ciclo de conciertos de música contemporánea. Recordings with pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett include Karlheinz Stockhausen's MANTRA and the complete works for two keyboards by John Cage on NAXOS.

About the composers (click to expand)

an archive photo of John CageAmerican avant-garde composer John Cage (1912-1992) experimented with the nature of sound and devised new systems of musical notation. His innovative ideas on composition and performance influenced musicians, painters, and choreographers. John Cage questioned all musical preconceptions inherited from the 19th century, and he flourished in an atmosphere of controversy. The teacher-composer Arnold Schoenberg once called him "not a composer, but an inventor—of genius." He received awards and grants; a few important music critics wrote perceptively and enthusiastically about his works. However, to most of the public and even to many musicians his compositions—especially the late ones—remain baffling and outrageous, an anarchic world of noise that cannot even qualify as music.

portrait photo of Duncan MacLeodComposer Duncan MacLeod’s practice utilises both acoustic and electronic forces. His output encompasses concert music, cross-arts collaboration, computer music and electro-acoustic composition. His work has been commissioned, commercially recorded, and broadcast internationally by various ensembles and soloists. These include the Arditti Quartet, Jane Chapman, Galvanize Ensemble, Juice vocal ensemble, London Sinfonietta, Musarc, Ensemble Okeanos, Orkest de Volharding, Piano Circus and Quatuor Diotima. His work has been performed at various festivals such as Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Spitalfields Festival, Gaudeamus music week (NL), Sonorities, and Bang on a Can Marathon (NY) and at prominent venues namely The Muziekgebouw (NL), Walt Disney Centre (USA), Southbank Centre, Kings Place and Café OTO. Upcoming commissions include works for clarinettist Sarah Watts as well as a large-scale multichannel electro-acoustic work drawing upon the acoustic ecology of London’s markets in response to Orlando Gibbon’s The Cries of London. Duncan is Assistant professor of music composition at the University of Nottingham and co-creates of Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research (NottFAR) and the concert series NottNOISE.

a portrait photo of Helen PapaioannouHelen Papaioannou is a composer/performer based in Sheffield. She composes for acoustic instruments and electronics, and has a fascination with the dynamics of group interaction. Her solo project Kar Pouzi intertwines baritone saxophone and electronics, often drawing out intensity from persistent cycles and repeated sounds. Helen’s compositions have been performed by various musicians and ensembles including Ensemble neoN, Workers Union Ensemble, Galvanize Ensemble, Renzo Spiteri/Michael Speers, and Nieuw Ensemble. She improvises with a range of collaborators, is a member of the duo Garlic Hug and has played as one third of the bands Beauty Pageant and HOKKETT.

a portrait photo of Nina YoungComposer Nina C. Young writes music characterized by an acute sensitivity to tone color, manifested in aural images of vibrant, arresting immediacy.  Her experience in the electronic studio informs her acoustic work, which takes as its given not melody and harmony, but sound itself.  Young’s music has garnered international acclaim through performances by the New York Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Orkest de ereprijs, Philadelphia Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Argento, Divertimento, Either/Or, JACK Quartet, Metropolis, Scharoun, Sixtrum, wild Up, and Yarn/Wire.  Winner of the 2015-16 Rome Prize in Musical Composition, Nina has received awards and fellowships from the Koussevitzky Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Civitella-Ranieri, the Copland Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, and BMI.  Recent commissions include "Tread softly" for the NYPhil's Project 19, a violin concerto for Jennifer Koh and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and a multimedia work for the American Brass Quintet and EMPAC’s wavefield synthesis system. Her debut album "Traced Upon Cinders", a collaboration with Ensemble Échappé and Benjamin Grow will be out later this year on Innova. 

A graduate of McGill and MIT, Nina completed her DMA at Columbia University where she was an active participant at the Columbia Computer Music Center.  Young is an Assistant Professor of Composition at USC's Thornton School of Music. She serves as Co-Artistic Director of NY-based new music sinfonietta Ensemble Échappé.  Her music is published by Peermusic Classical. 



University of Nottingham Assistant Professor Xenia Pestova Bennett joins her duo partner Netherlands-based pianist Pascal Meyer to discuss the toy piano.


blue sound wave