Outdoor pianos for the Vancouver summer: Rachel Iwaasa with Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Enjoy Rachel Iwaasa playing for Spyglass Dock, one of four pianos that CityStudio has positioned around Vancouver for a limited time this summer.

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      (On mobile? Click here to watch the video on YouTube.)

      Johann Sebastian Bach’s  Goldberg Variations has flowed through Rachel Iwaasa since the time she was 15 years old.

      No doubt, the Vancouver pianist has has played the 18th-century work countless times since it first captured her imagination.

      “I’ve been working on it for a long time and so it’s in my fingers,” Iwaasa said during an interview on the water’s edge in False Creek. “It is, in many ways, an unusual piece for me to pick, because I am known more as a contemporary music pianist....But it has been a dream of mine to perform that piece for a very, very long time.”

      Iwaasa is the director of operations at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival. She is currently busy with daily rehearsals ahead of the August 5 premiere of When the Sun Comes Out, Canada’s first lesbian opera.

      Composed by Leslie Uyeda and Rachel Rose, that production will see Iwaasa play piano as part of a five-piece chamber ensemble that will accompany the voices of Teiya Kasahara, Julia Morgan, and Aaron Durand.

      “It is a brilliant and moving work dealing with the dangers and dilemmas faced by queers in countries where homosexuality is illegal,” Iwaasa said. “The opera explores the oppression that queers face, and the risks they take, in nations where homosexuality is illegal.”

      The venue Iwaasa plays in the video above is Spyglass Dock. It’s one of four pianos that CityStudio has positioned around Vancouver for a limited time this summer.

      Find one before they disappear August 24 and play for the public.

      Rachel Iwaasa’s performance is the first in a four-part series presented by the Georgia Straight. The second installment will be published on YouTube and at Straight.com on Friday, August 9, 2013.

      Part two: Joseph Hirabayashi with "an accusatory pop song"
      Part three: Dawn Pemberton with a love song for you
      Part four: Emet S.W. with an old soul's rendition of Skyfall
      Part five: The Carnival Band’s Ross Barrett jamming with the Carlo Rossi Gang



      random piano

      Aug 2, 2013 at 10:10am

      We were riding along the seawall one day and a woman had stopped to play the piano while riding with her family. We all applauded when she finished so she played another song.

      It was random, and that is why it was so cool.

      Alan Layton

      Aug 5, 2013 at 11:22pm

      I've ridden by this piano many times this summer and there's always someone playing this piano, and generally they've been pretty good. It's things like this that makes city life, the best life. Nice video too. I would've liked to hear more.