Tickling the Ivories

Corey Hamm — September 4–2017 — Roy Barnett Hall UBC School of Music — Photographs- Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

The piano as a musical instrument has been in my mind as of late. Thinking about it I realized I have quite a few photographs of people by pianos either pianists or simply sitting by one.

My first introduction to the piano came at age 8 when my parents took me to the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires for a concert featuring Arthur Rubinstein.

My mother did not own a piano but my grandmother did. We would often go in Tram 35 to my Abuelita’s flat and my mother would first accompany my her (she was a coloratura soprano) and my Uncle Tony who was a fine tenor. They would sing American musical songs. Then my mother would play (she read very well) Chopin and in particular I have a fond memory of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Jane Coop at Cecil Green, UBC My inspiration for the Corey Hamm portrait

My mother did not have access to a piano until she began to teach at the ALCOA Aluminio School in Veracruz, Mexico I the late 50s. The few students who attended the school did so at my mother’s home so a piano was bought. When I visited her she would play at my request the US Marine Corps Hymn.

In the late 60s she bought an upright piano a black Bechstein. When she moved to live with us (Rosemary, Alexandra and Hilary) we were having money problems so she sold the piano. I was heartbroken at her decision. I have never forgotten her sacrifice.

Filomena de Irureta Goyena (my mother) at the piano sometime in the late 30s in Manila

Around 1998 our neighbour across the street on Athlone Street (she was in her 80s) told us that she was looking for a home for her Chickering baby grand. Her grandmother had given it to her when she was a little girl. She offered it to us for $500. I was easily transported from her living room to ours.

Shortly after we obtained the Chickering I decided to give a summer party featuring alto saxophonist Gavin Walker and pianist Eric Vaughn. It was a beautifully warm summer evening and I remember sitting at the front entrance smoking a Montecristo accompanied by Malcolm Parry.

My eldest daughter Ale who plays the classical guitar can handle a piano nicely and she likes to play with my youngest granddaughter, Lauren, 15, music for four hands.

Because of my mother’s sacrifice in selling her piano and my deep guilt, a year and a half ago we had the piano restored by Mike Storey and soon it will be tuned. The piano sits in what we call the piano room. We have old lawyer’s stacking bookcases and my vermillion upholstered psychiatric couch (the piano bench is also upholstered in the same material which also matches the brand new red piano felts.

Olena with Curtis Daily’s baroque bass in our piano room

Some reading this (and this is long) might notice some photographs that have harpsichords.

For many years I was not impressed by the instrument. In large baroque orchestras I could never hear it. Solo harpsichord playing left me cold.

All that changed when Alexander Weimann landed in Vancouver to be the Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. He explained how in many instances nothing he played as a continuo performer for a baroque orchestra was written and he had to improvise. With the connection between the harpsichord and my love for jazz my ears suddenly opened to the charms of the instrument.

Finally on taking photographs of pianists. This is really a cliché. I discovered that all has been done before and the one exception was the Stravinsky portrait by Arnold Newman. I ripped off the idea for a Globe&Mail article on Vancouver artist Rodney Graham.

Igor Stravinsky — Arnold Newman

Some years ago I was asked by Vancouver Pianist Jane Coop to take her portraits. I found a way which I liked (and so did she). It was that method that I used a few days ago on Corey Hamm. Another time I had to photograph noted local pianist Robert Silverman who had recorded Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas. I decided to skip the piano on that occasion.

Jane Coop
Robert Silverman
Alexander Weimann preparing for Handel’s Water Music
Michael Jarvis and his square Chickering with Paul Luchkow, Rebecca Stewart and Lauren Stewart
Craig Tomlinson - harpsichord maker
Deuphine Lauver in our piano room and the magic of gaffer tape
Bertrand Cuiller and Benjamin Perrot of La Reveuse with Matthew White centre
Jacques Ogg
Dave Brubeck — Photograph Richard Avedon
Michael Jarvis
Bramwell Tovey & Alexander Weimann
AlexanderWeimann & Reginald Mobley
Alexander Weimann & Bramwel Tovey
Nicole Scriabin (Alexander Scriabin’s grand niece) at our Chickering — box camera photograph
Alexander Weimann
Laura Vanek — Novo Ensemble
Lauri Stallings & Owen Underhill at piano
Alexander Weimann
Corey Hamm & Nicole Li with her erhu
My Rosemary Waterhouse-Hayward at the Chickering
Jamie Parker & Edmond Kilpatrick
Kathryn Petersen still plays on keyboards but has switched to the accordion noir
Illustration by Graham Walker
Peggy Lee, Jane Hays, François Houle & Marc Destrubé — Quartet for the End of Time
Rebecca Stewart at the Chickering
Milton Glasser pianist and dentist (he is the one who said I have been tickling the ivories for years) with my daughter in Mexico City in the early 70s
Mr. & Mrs Tomlinson, Marc Destrubé, Byron Schenkman & Natalie Mackie

Link to: Tickling the Ivories

Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.



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Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net