The West

Grand piano is key to innovation
Piano craftsman Wayne Stuart with pianist Joseph Havlat

Australian piano maker Wayne Stuart is taking on international giants such as Steinway and Yamaha with his wide-bodied instrument with 102 keys - 14 more than usual.

Visiting Perth with what has been dubbed a "magnificent monster", a $300,000 Stuart and Sons concert grand piano, the Newcastle craftsman said he wanted to kick-start piano development which had been stuck in the 19th century because of commercial replication and slavish tradition.

Hale School graduate Joseph Havlat, 18, who heads to London soon to study at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, is one of several local pianists who will play the Stuart in a free concert series at the State Theatre Centre and a CBD building foyer over the next two months.

"It is something that takes a little getting used to," Havlat said. "It is a pretty formidable thing compared with what everyone is used to.

"It is quite a reach from one end to the other."

Havlat expected the mega-piano to grow in popularity as composers created new repertoires based on its broader musical palette.

The piano extends the higher and lower frequency range well beyond those achieved on conventional instruments pianos

Mr Stuart said he wanted to design an instrument that embraced new technology and kept faith to its heritage.

"Musical instruments, as tools of trade, must reflect contemporary usage if the performer is to explore new technical and emotional paradigms," he said. "Musical instrument makers owe it to themselves and their craft to innovate and explore. There is no future in copying and relying outmoded fashions."

Next month, piano students will hold lunchtime concerts at Parmelia House in St Georges Terrace. Schools wanting to participate can contact Hale School events manager Oliver Loweth on 9347 0153.

The West Australian

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