The Ascension of Mickey's Piano
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(Feb 19, 2009)
The Ascension of Micky's Piano celebrates the memory of times gone by, and of the people who lived those
times. It celebrates the convenience of modern day living, the hard work of past generations, and our abilities to earn a living with ideas and intellect, instead of hard physical labour.
The film was produced by The Company of Adventurers, a group founded by Canadian concert pianist Jeffrey Neufeld and Canadian director/producer Rob Kelly. The Company of Adventurers develop new performance methods by combining various artistic disciplines. The Company's debut recording was recently released by US-based Snow Ghost Music.
The Ascension of Micky's Piano came into being as a result of a radio interview conducted by Jeffrey Neufeld in the spring of 2008. In the course of the conversation, he described a multi-media project that the Company was developing, and discussed the Company's efforts to locate a piano that would be suitable for burning. Numerous individuals from across Canada subsequently contacted the Company: most simply wanted an old piece of furniture moved out of their house for free. However, one individual was not only in possession of an appropriate instrument, but also possessed a compelling and beautiful story.
Micky Gulless took a solid 20 minutes to describe the history of her 1924 Sherlock and Manning upright piano, and its role in her family's history. The piano had been bought at great expense just prior to the Great Depression. It had served as entertainment fulcrum, family learning centre, a symbol of hard labor and successful farming in rural Saskatchewan, a province of Canada known for its agricultural focus.
She went on to describe an intriguing rational for burning the instrument. She believed that the instrument was an icon of a past era: gone were the days of purchasing a heavy and expensive instrument for entertainment, along with the days of European farmhands laboring intensely to produce the wheat crop. In their place, a new era had brought a world where one could produce entertainment from myriad electronic devices and generate income from ideas and intellect. Rather than have this beautiful instrument spend its remaining days languishing in her basement, Micky thought that she would like to release the instrument from its 'thing-ness'. By burning it, she would unleash the spirit that it held: the hope that it had brought to the farm, the pride in possessing such a thing during a difficult era and the joy that had enraptured its listeners over 8 decades.
Some months later, the Adventurers gathered well before sunrise. Nothing was left to do, but light the piano on fire and record the subsequent events. It was a small and quiet crowd who were present. All seemed to understand that something unseen and unknowable was about to take place. Perhaps we were indeed releasing beauty and radiant energy back into the world? Three hours later, the Ascension was complete.
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