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2003 AGM and Social Evening - Denis Hall at the Steinway Duo Art

The Friends of the Pianola Institute organise house concerts every now and then, usually three a year at present. These are far less formal than public recitals, and they include a buffet dinner during the intervals. We try to keep to a fixed musical programme on each occasion, though by the time dessert is out of the way, there is usually a free for all on the host's player pianos. It's a gentle mix of music and sociability!

AGM and House Concert at Hither Green - May 2005

An expectant audience in the Music Roll Studio.

The first house concert chez Rona Eastwood and Rex Lawson included the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes with vocal quartet - a pleasant addition to the repertoire of the pianola. There was also a good deal of solo music, and an opportunity to view the Institute's roll perforating machine in action for the first time, thanks to efforts of Anthony Robinson.

Ceremonial cutting of the perforator leads - Denis Hall and Anthony Robinson.

The roll perforating machine was acquired from the estate of Harry and Sylvia Medcraft, who built it in the 1970s, and Anthony has converted it to run from modern computer. This is undoubtedly more accurate, but in the process it involved disabling the former electro-pneumatic roll reader, and cutting the electrical leads in order to wire them up to a PC. It was a burning bridges situation!

For more information about the perforating machine, see our Friends' Projects page.

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House Concert at Hayes - October 2004

The Steinway Welte grand, with Christmas cake (2003) in honour of Paderewski.

In late 2004, Denis Hall hosted one of his fascinating house concerts, to celebrate the centenary of the Welte-Mignon, as far as it is possible to place an exact date on the instrument's origin. Denis had recently acquired a Steinway Welte grand piano that plays the early red-coloured rolls, and he had adjusted and refined it to the point where it sounded very lifelike indeed.

Dan Wilson, pianolist extraordinaire, at the completion of his evening's recital.

That autumn, the house concert was divided into two distinct parts. In the first half, we heard a wide variety of playing from the Welte-Mignon, from a virile Paderewski, an inimitable Grieg, a soulful Eugen d'Albert, and a Josef Lhévinne hardly out of short trousers! After a refreshment interval, we returned to a real treat: Dan Wilson performing a selection of jazz and light music on Denis' magnificent Steck Pianola grand.

Dan Wilson in the form of a cake.

Careful research having ascertained that Dan's 70th birthday occurred on the same weekend, a celebration was duly held, and a birthday cake was presented and shared, sporting an edible photograph of Dan himself.

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2003 House Concert

At Denis' previous year's house concert, the featured virtuoso was Percy Grainger, playing a cross-section of his concert repertoire, as well as his own inimitable compositions and arrangements.  The programme concluded with Grainger's quirky 1948 arrangement of Country Gardens, energetically pedalled by the unique pianola duo, Rex Lawson and Denis Hall.

Jeanette Koch and Jack London enjoy the evening.

The evening's musical entertainment was happily interspersed with refreshments of a gastronomic nature, and finally wound up shortly after midnight.

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