Parchetypes puts piano in the park

Will Robinson’s Parchetypes was inspired by the keepers of Point Pleasant. Shannon Webb-Campbell faces the music.

Point Pleasant Park is a natural respite from urban Halifax---tall trees, well-worn hiking trails, greenery and soulful ocean views.

William Robinson could sense the magic and intrigue when he first visited with his father's old Konica 35mm camera years ago. He honours the keepers of the park with Parchetypes, one of HRM's Cultural Affairs department's Open Projects.

"The word 'parchetypes' is simply a combination of the words park---or parc in French---and archetype. There are many sources of inspiration for Parchetypes. Primarily the project is influenced by two real-life personalities," says Robinson. "I like to call them fathers or parchetypes of the park, who use the park as a natural stage and backdrop to display their musical expression for reasons unbeknownst to anyone else but themselves."

"In my mind they are both [the bagpiper and gatekeeper]---symbolically and literally ---nurturing the park's natural elements and inhabitants as well as simply charming park-goers with their music expressions," Robinson says.

Parchetypes is a two-part project. The first phase runs from August 15 to 22, disembodying the sounds of the anonymous rogue bagpiper who roams the park. Robinson and other local musicians---including Rich Aucoin, Eleanor King, Laura Peek and Robert Drisdelle---pay tribute to the park's ghost-like bagpiper. "We'll be performing unique and interpretative soundscapes on a piano in the woods," he says. "There will also be a bagpiper marking the beginning and end of this component of the project by playing anonymously in the woods."

Parchetypes transforms the park on August 23 from 7-9pm. Piano performances run from to August 21 between 11am and 1pm. Robinson's up with the birds performing a reinterpreted version of Yoko Ono's "Secret Piece" from 5-8am daily.

"I want to encourage anyone attending the park to find the piano in the woods and play it," he says. "Whether it's just one or two notes or a piece by Bach or Jerry Lee Lewis."

Phase two of the project will run from September 5 to 11. Robinson adopts the persona of the park's gatekeeper, sharing the recorded sounds from a mixtape of the week-one performances on a portable cassette player between noon and 4pm.

"For a while I wanted to to develop a work that explores a legend or character from our local culture," says Robinson. "In the case of Parchetypes, I took a real interest in the two local mythical-like characters that inhabit Point Pleasant Park: the bagpiper and the gatekeeper."

Parchetypes explores the romance, intrigue and cinematic aspects of music. Instead of being contained in a conventional setting, such as a theatre, concert hall, club or art gallery, the project's surroundings are natural elements---the forest floor, salty ocean air, wind rustling through trees. It gives the listener a chance to fully listen.

Inspired by the work of Yoko Ono and John Cage, Robinson notes putting a piano in an urban forest addresses a different set of concerns and considerations.

"Bringing music into the outside world, out of doors, allows the noise and sounds of every day life to seep into the music and vice versa," he says. "Allowing for a kind of auditory cross-pollination."

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