Music Educators Association of New Jersey

Serving teachers and students since 1927

January 2020



Kathleen Supové
“Contemporary Experimental Piano: Accessibility for All”


On January 16, Kathleen Supové presented an outstanding and unique lecture, “Contemporary Experimental Piano: Accessibility for All.” Ms. Supové is one of America’s most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists, known for continually redefining what it means to be a pianist/keyboardist/performance artist in today’s world. In May 2012, Kathleen Supové received the John Cage Award from ASCAP for “the artistry and passion with which she performs, commissions, records, and champions the music of our time.” A striking presence onstage, she has performed with computers, boxing gloves, robots, Yamaha Disklavier, noise-based effects, and laptop orchestra.

After winning top prizes in the Gaudeamus International Competition for Interpretation of Contemporary Music, she began her career as a guest artist at the prestigious Darmstadt Festival in Germany. Since then, Ms. Supové has presented solo concerts entitled The Exploding Piano, in which she has championed the music of countless contemporary composers. Kathleen Supové is a Juilliard graduate and a professor at Mannes School of Music at The New School.

Ms. Supové started her presentation with an engaging narrative about her experience and love for experimental piano music. Modern classical music is often difficult to listen to and to understand, especially dissonances, abstractions, minimalism, serialism, and the like. Ms. Supové is bringing all of the above vibrantly alive by fusing elements of different styles: jazz, rock, world, original monologues, visual effects, and theatrical sketches.

With the audience’s participation, Ms. Supové demonstrated excerpts from recently composed piano music with experimental elements - mallets for improvisation, tennis balls and beads inside the piano, body fan, masking tape for harmonics, metal chopsticks, sound-cluster makers, elbow to make a string continue to vibrate like an electric guitar, and graphic scores. She demonstrated and explained improvisation in a score, including graphic notation and other visual components. Ms. Supové passed scores containing examples of experimental piano music to the audience. She discussed the importance of encouraging students to improvise.

Ms. Supové performed A Face In The Crowd, a poignantly romantic piece full of surprising sounds and technical challenges. Written by the notable modern composer, Randall Woolfe, Ms. Supové’s husband, it is program music about a single bird caught up in a mass migration and touchdown in a roosting place (part of a project she did about a real bird migration in Portland Oregon). The music and score were fascinating with expressivity and sound effects: rumbles, white keys and cluster glissandos, inverted (short) fermatas, ‘tickling’ of the keys, improvisational sections, and more. She also played excerpts from Between Starshine and Clay by Inti Figgis-Vizueta and Lullaby by Leah Asher.

Ms. Supové asked the audience to draw some pictures, abstract ones or on any topic. Then she interpreted each drawing on the piano, creating amazingly imaginative, intelligent, witty and expressive improvisations.

For more information about Kathleen Supové, visit


Writer: Sophia Agranovich, Program Chair and Hostess
Layout: Joan Bujacich
Phography: Lisa Gonzalez