Bowed piano composer Stephen Scott prepares for retrospective concerts, retirement

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Photo: Composer Stephen ScottComposer and Colorado College professor Stephen Scott is about to retire after spending decades creating music for the bowed piano, and his past and current collaborators are celebrating his pieces in concert.

Bowed piano music often features musicians drawing fishing line or other tools across the individual strings of an open piano, rather than sitting at the keyboard.

Members of Scott’s Bowed Piano Ensemble, which has performed his music since 1977, also use mallets, guitar picks and other tools to coax otherworldly sounds from the instrument. The ensemble released six albums and toured the world. They’ve played the Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

The Bowed Piano Ensemble performs a free, two-concert retrospective of Scott’s music this weekend at Colorado College’s Packard Hall. Saturday’s concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and includes Scott’s “Vikings of the Sunrise.” Sunday’s performance begins at 2 p.m. and includes Scott’s “Double Variations” for two bowed piano ensembles and Terry Riley’s “In C.”

Scott spoke with Ryan Warner about finding unusual ways to coax sounds from the piano, his "colonies" of bowed piano ensembles around the world and working with students at Colorado College, where he began teaching in 1969.

Click the audio link above to hear the interview, or watch the video below to see what a bowed piano concert looks like.