A Thousand Fingers on the Keys

This week at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., 100 piano players took the stage to play together, in unison, all at the same time. The piano extravaganza was conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Ladies and gentlemen, start tuning your pianos. This week at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, 100 pianists sat down to play 100 pianos all at the same time. Leonard Slatkin tried to conduct the cacophony, which coincides with Kennedy Center's Festival of China. The Kennedy Center's vice president of international programing, Alicia Adams, had seen many huge group performances in China and was inspired to try something similar on stage in DC. The young pianists played Schubert's "March Militaire," "The Swan," by Saint-Saens, "Do-Re-Mi" and some Chinese melodies. So without further ado, the sound of a thousand fingers tickling 100 sets of ivories.

(Soundbite of 100-piano performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts)

SIMON: Reviewers noted that the music sounded surprisingly distinct, but Maestro Slatkin said that with a hundred pianists, once a piece starts it's kind of up to them to stay together.

(Soundbite of 100-piano performance)

SIMON: Coming up, an Argentine composer makes the voice of an angel strain to sound devilish, too. Stay tuned.

(Soundbite of 100-piano performance)

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