The Piano's Last Act / Percussionists at the Circus showcases the fascinating concept of ‘instrumental theatre'.

By: Feb. 13, 2024
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NO HAY BANDA has announced its upcoming instrumental theatre concert, featuring music by Jennifer Walshe, Elena Rykova, Alfredo Rugeles and Mauricio Kagel, on March 8 & 9 at the Théâtre Rouge du Conservatoire. The Saturday matinee welcomes families.

The Piano's Last Act / Percussionists at the Circus showcases the fascinating concept of ‘instrumental theatre' (also called ‘music theatre'), where music does not accompany the action, but rather, music is the action. The theatricalization of instrumental playing creates characters out of the musicians themselves, fusing sound and theatre as inseparable components of performance.

NO HAY BANDA Artistic Director Noam Bierstone produced an initial version of this show with Soundstreams at Crow's Theatre in Toronto in 2022 to great acclaim, and is eager to present it to local audiences. As he describes, “The theatrical nature of these works draws the audience into each unique performance situation, stimulating them to discover new musical approaches and opening their ears to fantastic sound worlds that they may not encounter otherwise.”

The first half of the show is a piano surgery gone wrong. The Piano's Last Act follows the journey of a piano through the emergency room in an effort to repair a grave problem: it is only able to perform extremely short micro-quotations from a wide variety of piano pieces; Jennifer Walshe's becher. In the emergency room, Elena Rykova's 101% mind uploading is a musical reconstruction of the complex situation of a surgical process, featuring three performers—or ‘musical surgeons'—controlling a variety of objects in and around an open piano. The performers, dressed in surgical outfits including gowns and masks, use various tools, apparatus, and ‘surgical music machines' to carry out a detailed exploration of the large and bizarre organism that is a piano. The result of this experimental surgery, Sal-cita by Alfredo Rugeles, is as unpredictable as it is entertaining.

The Piano's Last Act features two solo works performed by Daniel Áñez, and a trio performed by NO HAY BANDA members Áñez, Bierstone and Geneviève Liboiron.

Percussionists at the Circus presents the percussion piece Dressur by Mauricio Kagel, a pioneering composer of instrumental theatre. A landmark work of the genre, taking the dressage of animals as its source inspiration, Dressur is profound, humorous and surreal, effortlessly straddling the line between reality and the absurd. The three percussionists are placed within an elaborate wooden set made up of over 50 percussion instruments that transforms the concert stage into a circus ring. The costumed musicians walk, run and dance; they grunt, howl and yelp—testing the limits of musical performance and redefining theatre in musical terms. As sound-producing gestures are transformed into theatrical gestures, the performers' character traits are revealed and relationships between them are formed. The intensity of performance provokes the absurdist humour in Dressur, which functions not as a simple form of entertainment but rather serves to conceal the tragic dimension of the work.

Dressur is performed by percussionists Bierstone, Randall Chaves Camacho and Ben Duinker.


The lauded NO HAY BANDA promotes music born of a generation that sees no barriers between musical genres, theatre, performative arts and contemporary culture. Productions are designed to broaden and challenge the musical experience of the audience, showcasing the work of the intergenerational avant-garde that takes its roots in pop/rock, DIY culture and post-war experimentation.

Their two most recent  shows: featuring the renowned pianist Eve Egoyan and sound artist Mauricio Pauly alongside mainstays of the Montreal experimental scene, was presented in front of a sold-out crowd on November 13 at La Sala Rossa; and India Gaily and Zihua Tan on February 4.


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