The Piano: An Instrument for All Seasons

He sports a stylish bathrobe on stage, complete with a wild mane. He is a pianist, composer and intoxicating entertainer who is convincing in, jazz, classical, pop, techno and hip-hop. He won a Grammy together with Daft Punk. For him, without the black and white keys, nothing works. So we warmly welcomed Chilly Gonzales to an exclusive factory concert at our Hamburg Steinway & Sons Factory.

The native Canadian left his dressing gown in his chosen home of Cologne and instead donned a noble, blue silk shirt. But the 46-year-old would not be himself if he didn´t sport his brown slippers, another calling card. Perhaps because it gives him greater sensitivity with the pedals? "When I play the piano what I am doing with my feet is the most important and impressive part" explains Gonzales, for whom the piano’s pedals are more expressive than the keys.

 

That is why this inquisitive musician was particularly drawn to the pedal department during the guided tour through the Steinway Factory. Despite all his fascination with the craftsmanship and the various factory stations, Gonzales is a little frightened. "It's a bit scary to see my beloved instrument cut into so many pieces, almost like a dead body," he confesses jokingly. After all, a piano in his eyes is the elemental gateway to music. It crosses all borders: "A piano can do it all," he says. Every new composition starts at the piano, the more spontaneously the better. But whether the resultant piece is rap or classical, he never knows beforehand. "I just start," he says. This is how his latest album, Solo III, was written, which he began composing during a sabbatical in 2016 and which drops in September. “The pieces almost wrote themselves," explains Gonzales.

 

No less spontaneous and masterly as during his Live From The Factory Floor concert, which 150 Steinway workers visibly enjoyed during a long lunch break. The recital featured the delicate sounds of "White Keys" and the moving piece "October 3rd," from Solo III. Gonzales also conscripted the carpenter Daniela as a pianist for a three-handed performance. Both earned raging applause. As a thank-you, Gerrit Glaner, Steinway Artistic Director, gave Gonzales what he most wanted: a set of shiny new Steinway pedals for his very own.

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