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Interview: Joanna! Joanna! International Piano Festival's Jahne Kohlewaller

Interview: Joanna! Joanna! International Piano Festival's Jahne Kohlewaller

Sam Longmore / Saturday 11th November, 2017 1:27PM

Auckland facilitators of experimental sounds the Audio Foundation are holding a celebration of left-field piano music this weekend, the Joanna! Joanna! International Piano Festival featuring Phil Dadson, Hermione Johnson, Stefan Neville and more. The Audio Foundation’s Sam Longmore tracked down enigmatic and uncompromising Danish pianist Jahne Kohlewaller, who has returned to our shores for his Saturday performance, and apparently was not at all in the best of moods for an interview. Read their entertainingly offbeat conversation below and catch the artist live this evening…

Mr. Kohlewaller, a pleasure to speak with you. Welcome to Aotearoa! Though seeing as this not your first trip to NZ, I should really say, 'welcome back’!

I am not in your country yet - idiot.

Apologies, sir. When do you expect to arrive, and what has bought you back?

I return to perform on a piano I do not regularly travel to your country as it is strange and unwelcoming.

I am very sorry to hear that you feel that way, but in some respects I think you are probably right in this assessment. Certainly we do not celebrate arts and culture as you do in Denmark. What have you been doing since your last visit?

My music soars as an invisible dodecaheaded eagle creature with steel claws and razor beak, I have no time for petty small talk you tight panted mumbler!

Wow, that sounds fantastic. Can audiences here expect your set this coming Saturday to be as awesome as your description above? Is there anything you would advise for them in terms of preparation?

I have no expectation of an audience, indeed I do not expect there will even be an audience given that idiot producer has scheduled me to perform last - if you see him kick him in the shins.

Regrettable, but alas, with 13 pianists someone was going to have to close out the festival. Presumably your were chosen in light of your profile, with the hope that serious fans will stick around to hear you play. Regardless, I will convey your displeasure to the person responsible for the programme and running order.

Speaking of your profile, though, you are regarded by some as one of the world's most exciting pianists, and by just as many others as a difficult figure in new music, sometimes described as a sort of 'enfant terrible' of the piano world... Many great artists have found themselves occupying a similarly schizophrenic position. How do feel about this? Do you think there is a correlation at play here? Jealousy, perhaps? Or is it a reflection of a more general societal conservatism?

I have no idea what you are talking about, NEXT.

If you were to be able to defend accusations made via various reputable presses, what would you say?

Fake news.

For how long have you been playing the piano? And what was it about the instrument which initially drew you to it?

My life with this instrument began over 300000 years ago, emerging from the space dust which comprises this universe… all of my music dances with this cosmic dust, it is not of this world but of all worlds and all possible universes. My body is but a conglomeration of cosmic dust particles, thus the piano and are a representation of the constant chaos of the universe, expressed as sound. I have no time for melodies or simple rhythms, these are mere marketing tools for social climbers.

I see. Well, I for one am extremely excited to see and hear you perform, and am very curious to see how audiences and your fellow Joanna! Joanna! pianists respond to your work! Thank you for taking the time to talk. Is there anything you would like to add before we say goodbye?

Work on your interview technique - goodbye.

For a hint of tonight’s action, check out this clip of Joanna! Joanna! International Piano Festival director Jeff Henderson’s 2013 ‘Occulmutation’ solo piano performance…


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Joanna! Joanna! - International Piano Festival
Sat 11th Nov 4:00pm
Audio Foundation, Auckland