Riverpiano (Allegheny River, Pittsburgh 2005)

In the performance, Pestel is playing a prepared grand piano and bird whistles on a 20’ raft floating down the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh. The act of thus floating was inspired by a fictional, prophetic dream the composer Heitor Villa Lobos might have had a few weeks before he died in 1959.

In the dream that Pestel imagines, he is playing his Steinway aquaplaning up the

Rio Negro in Brazil searching for the birdsongs of his youth. He plays a music unlike any that he has ever heard and is transported into the realm of the birds. Suddenly, in the intensity of the music, the piano bursts into flame. In his mind’s eye, he is pulled upward into the stratosphere as his piano gradually swells to the size and proportion of Brazil now engulfed in smoke and flames.