Most of us are familiar with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the famous chorale from the fourth movement of his beloved Ninth Symphony. But few of us are likely to have experienced this work as a captivated audience at the Art Gallery of New South Wales did yesterday.

Luca Ieracitano. Photo © Jenni Carter

Huddled around a Bechstein grand piano, they watched as Italian pianist Luca Ieracitano performed variations on the Ode to Joyfrom inside the instrument itself. Standing in a large hole cut through its case, Ieracitano played backwards and suspended over the keys, occasionally wheeling himself around the gallery space to a delighted crowd of unsuspecting gallery goers.

Over the next two weeks, American artist duo Allora & Calzadilla’s Stop, repair, prepare: variations on ‘Ode to joy’ for a prepared pianowill be performed at scheduled times in the gallery by a rotating group of musicians, some of whom are students and alumni from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Free to the public and presented as part of the Kaldor Public Art Projects’ 50th anniversary celebrations, Stop, repair, preparewas last seen in Australia in 2012, when it was originally performed as...

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