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Honens Festival Kicks Off With Performance Of 18-Hour Piano Piece

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A Calgary music festival is kicking off with a marathon performance.

A team of 40 pianists is taking shifts approximately every 28 minutes to perform Erik Satie's 18-hour-long piece "Vexations" for the opening of the 2016 Honens Festival.

The event is an internationally acclaimed piano competition that takes place every three years in Calgary.

'An appetite for the absurd'

Satie's piece, which was composed in 1883, consists of three lines of music played 840 times in succession.

“Thank God I’m not playing it 840 times, I would go crazy,” pianist Carlos Foggin joked to Metro News.

Watch the livestream of the performance:


The festival's organizers chose the piece to celebrate the composer's 150th birthday.

"Satie had an appetite for the absurd," Honens artistic director Stephen McHolm told CBC News.

"And let’s face it, what’s more absurd than 40 pianists playing the same theme 840 times in this birthday performance?"

McHolm, who took a shift at the bench Thursday morning, said the piece can test a performer's patience.

"It starts with curiosity and ends with, basically, anger," he told the Calgary Herald.

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