THE POWER OF MUSIC
The Pish Piano : The Power of Music PRESS PLAY
The Pish Piano
Filmed + Edited by: Emily Jaschke
Teenage Pianist Faces Harvey With Courageous Performance
Emphasizing the Power of Music
Written by Johnston Farrow, CultureMap Houston Music Columnist
(The condensed version was published here: http://tinyurl.com/CultureMap-JF-PishPiano)
In the aftermath of Harvey, heartbreaking tales of destruction and loss across Houston were countered by those of individuals and organizations that put their lives on hold to shelter, feed and console the thousands that lost their homes, possessions and sense of security.
Houston’s music scene was no different.
One video, shot during Harvey flooding, profoundly captured a small experience of what many of Houston’s professional and amateur musicians faced during and after the storm.
Friendswood resident Kambiz Pish, whose house took on three feet of water, spent five days stuck on the second floor with his wife Maryan and 15-year-old daughter Pega. He took a moment to wade downstairs through the muck to make coffee. Mercifully, they still had clean running water and working gas to cook with.
Cabin fever setting in, Pega, who has taken piano lessons for eight years, slogged through over a foot of standstill water to perform an impromptu rendition of her mother’s favorite song, “Mariage D’Amour” by French musician Paul de Senneville.
“I’m going to make you happy and play you something to cheer you up,” Pega told her parents as she began to tap on the keys.
Pish picked up his only working camera – several others they used to document cherished annual trips to national parks across North America perished in the waters – and started to record. While news outlets covered similar stories of other pianists plinking away at waterlogged keys, recalling the orchestra playing as the Titanic sank, Pish’s video, literally and figuratively, strikes a chord.
Pega stands in her water-soaked front room and eloquently plays the keys of the Schafer and Sons piano she picked out with her piano teacher a few years prior, the piano she helped pay for with money she had saved up. Some of the notes are slightly off-key, likely due to the water damage. The performance is powerful – melancholy but confident, mournful but courageous. Her mother, slightly hidden by the doorframe, dances with solemn grace in the background. At one point, Pega hesitates, smiling to the camera, as if to brush off the absurdity of her recital space.
“It’s very emotional the way the notes are composed,” Pega said of the song, following her first day back at school at Clear Horizons in the Clear Creek school district where she is in the 10th grade. “I think it was something with so much devastation around us, it was something that was happy, it was nice to play.”
The Pish’s weren’t the only ones to lose their beloved instruments. On a whim and after quick search on Facebook, Pish contacted CultureMap contributing photographer Emily Jaschke to document the damage firsthand. There she witnessed several pianos lining the curb on Pish’s street. Enlarge that to a scale of millions of residents and one starts to get a sense of the immensity of what Houston musicians of all levels of expertise are dealing with after the storm.
Pish knows something about starting over. He immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in 1984. He is rebuilding his life once again, tearing out drywall and flooring, the piano still standing in the same spot, the same room, now without walls.
“I was going to take it down,” Pish said of the video after it started to illicit a response from thousands of viewers. “But I thought there was more to it than the flood. This gives some hope, a positive message. Something about music changes things.”
The flood waters finally receded, and despite rusting wire distorting it's notes, the piano still carried a tune, evidenced by Jaschke’s video she captured of Pega once again playing "Mariage D'Amour," to cheer up her parents only days earlier as the waters ravished her home. Strings bowed, but not broken.
Thank you Pish Family of your original footage contribution,
your bravery, your music, and allowing me to document your community.
Thank you Johnston Farrow for writing this beautiful piece.
Keywords: community, emily jaschke, harvey, houston, johnston farrow, music, piano, pish, recovery, the power of music,
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