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Gather Hear Tour: Utah and Massachusetts

Miki travels with a piano to perform an audience participatory show in community gathering spaces.


Gather Hear Tour continues onto Massachusetts and Utah in Fall 2020 after Alaska (2017) and West Virginia (2018). Gather Hear is a project by pianist Miki Sawada, in which she tours all 50 states with a piano in a van to perform in community gathering spaces instead of concert halls, free of charge. The project was born after the 2016 presidential election, when we despaired over the deep divide in this country; the mission of the project is to connect audiences across socioeconomic and political lines through a human and beautiful communal experience. The story of an America traveled through classical music is documented via photos, blog, and vlog.

Gather Hear started commissioning one work per state with “A Kind of Mirror” by Brendon Randall-Myers in West Virginia. We are asking for support to continue to commission state-specific composers for one centerpiece per tour: Ariel Friedman in Massachusetts and Elisabet Curbelo in Utah. Ariel, a Massachusetts native, is a classical composer/cellist and folk singer-songwriter embedded in New England Americana. Elisabet is an electroacoustic composer from Spain who has recently been appointed professor at University of Utah.

Gather Hear concerts are as much about the audience members and the communal space as it is about the performer and music. This mission can be at odds against the standard classical repertoire and its accompanying traditions, which often place the performer and music on a pedestal. Gather Hear’s composers are asked to write pieces that will bridge that gap, connecting the audience to classical repertoire, while reflecting the communal spirit in whatever way resonates with the composer.

Ariel says:

“I’m basing this piece on a folk song, ‘Foreign Lander.’ The last line says, ‘I’ve conquered all my enemies on land and on the sea but you, my dearest jewel, your beauty has conquered me.’ When my son was born, I started singing it to him as a lullaby and substituting his name for ‘jewel.’ My piece will challenge the concept of conquering: do big bombastic sounds win out in the end—a bit like some values of our Western culture—or can those be conquered by a gentler, more persistent melody? Can they be conquered by love?”

Elisabet says:

“‘Piano Hot Springs’ is a piece for piano and audience participation. The piece is conducted by LED color changing humidifiers that indicate the pianist and audience what music material to play and when. While the pianist from a score, the audience will play soft percussion objects such as lake stones, tree branches, water. The sounds will be carefully planned and easily indicated for the audience participation as the main goal is to be immersed in a bath of sound.”

By the end of the many years of Gather Hear, we will have a collection of 50 pieces. Each composer will have interpreted the prompt in delightfully unique ways, inspired by compositions that came before them and reflecting Miki’s ever-developing tour experience – a truly singular artifact of music in America in our lifetime.

Project Media

Gather Hear Alaska trailer
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Features: Miki Sawada

Summary video of Gather Hear’s first tour. Videography by Jarett Juarez and Andrew Rizzardi. Edited by Souki Mehdaoui.

All Is Well by Ariel Friedman
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Solo Piano composition by Ariel Friedman,
Performed by Miki Sawada

“All Is Well is based on a shape-note song by the same title from the “Northern Harmony” collection. Written in 1948, the words are about the peace that comes only in the afterlife. I chose to write this piece based on the paradox that all is well here and now, and all is also not well, which I illustrate using two tonal centers. There is also a chorale-like moment in the middle which is a distilled version of the original shape-note melody.” – Ari

Ululations and Gurgles of the Invisible (trailer)
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Interdisciplinary piece for percussion, five dancers, piano, soprano, American and Spanish Sign Language, video, lights and wearable controllers.
Ululations and Gurgles of the Invisible is an interdisciplinary piece where visual and auditory experiences are connected not only by their content but also through the use of wearable controllers containing different types of sensors.
More information: http://www.elisabetcurbelo.com/portfolio/ululations-and-gurgles-of-the-invisible-2018/

Start and End Dates



Multiple, Utah

Project Created By

Boston, Massachusetts
Concert pianist Miki is best known for her Gather Hear Tour, in which she travels the country state-by-state with a piano in a van to perform free shows in rural community gathering spaces. The project explores the power of classical music to bring us together through an elevated communal experience, with the goal of igniting real connections…

In Collaboration With

Roslindale, Massachusetts
Salt Lake City, Utah


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