Christopher Reiche will sit at the piano for 24-hours playing Erik Satie’s Vexations.

Christopher Reiche will sit at the piano for 24-hours playing Erik Satie’s Vexations.

Music man takes on marathon composition

Overnight concert will fundraise for new music at Open Space

A solo musical marathon will keep Open Space filled with sound.

Victoria composer, pianist, and educator Christopher Reiche will play for a day keying his way through one melody 840 times in the Erik Satie piece Vexations.

“It is rumoured that it was found behind his piano after he died and they were cleaning out his apartment,”  Reiche said. There were only vague instructions, he added. “It wasn’t until 50 years ago that some avant garde musicians, most notably John Cage thought lets try this repetition of 840 times.”

Reiche discovered the piece early in his musical career during a visit to the National Art Gallery of Canada where a video of musician Rober Racine playing Vexations was on exhibit.

“I saw this exhibit and I was floored by it. I didn’t know that music could even take 24 hours. The idea of the massiveness of this task, and the fact that it was possible for one person to do it, drew me in.”

Reiche’s first go with Vexations lasted more than 26 hours. This time he hopes to make it a 24-hour concert at Open Space starting at noon on June 21.

“Those last two and half hours were just too much,” he explained.

To prepare, like any marathoner, he’s practised some physically and done various meditations and exercises to be mentally ready. He’ll also cut coffee days prior to the event.

“Mentally it’s more meditation and just feeling the passage of time. This worked for me before, the idea of being able to feel what an hour feels like, just be aware of the passage of time,” he said. “I want to be as centred and rested.”

Endurance will be the key to completing this musical foray but the winner will be new music programming at Open Space where Reiche is the new music co-ordinator.

“We’re asking people to invest in contemporary music,” said Helen Marzolf, executive director for Open Space.

The performance fits nicely with what they try to do at the Fort Street location.

“We basically are a space where we help artist realize their vision, and our projects are always different,” said Helen Marzolf, executive director for Open Space. “Our interest is creating a space for artists to explore ideas and for people who live in Victoria to explore those ideas with the artist.”

Founded in 1972, Open Space is a non-profit artist-run centre that supports professional artists utilizing hybrid and experimental approaches to media, art, music, and performance.

A recent example is the 40 by 12 foot chalk drawing created by Wendy Hough. After the work of creating the large canvass, the follow-up washing away last week was a part of the creative process.

“We’ve done many durational works, whether it’s visual or music. … It’s just exciting to try these things and see how they play out,” said Marzolf.

Reiche tackles Vexations at Open Space, 510 Fort St. starting Friday, June 21 at noon finishing around the same time the next day. Sponsor a repetition for $10 or three for $25 at Open Space, or online at www.openspace.ca/vexations_fundraiser.

Open Space is open noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday with admission by donation, except for ticketed events. Learn more at www.openspace.ca

In for the long haul

When nature calls, Christopher Reiche plans to take “maybe five minutes at most” every six hours during the 24-hour performance.

“In order to feel true to the task of this performance and what I want to do as an artist, I’m not going to step out for a half hour break,” he said.

He hopes an audience will feel comfortable hanging out for the endurance, or portions of the day-long composition.

“Everyone’s welcome to come and go as they please, if people and to stay all night with me, they can feel free to bring what they need to feel comfortable to do so.”

Did you know?

The marathon will showcase the art of local foodies who have volunteered to create food that complements Reiche’s Vexations.