Rehearsal at Oxford House, London, March 2018
PIXERCISE was originally a single-breath piece by Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh for my Coming Up for Air project which commissions single-breath pieces: play the highest note possible on the piccolo and do as many sit-ups and possible for one breath. Since then, we have extensively collaboratively developed the piece. I have been through (and continue) a 12-month exercise programme, developed with a professional personal trainer, that focusses on the body’s core strength and power necessary for cardio and strength building and informed by piccolo performance practice.
The piece is currently a 20-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in which the piccolo is played throughout: for example, held in my hands during a sit-up, fixed onto a low-level box for a push-up, fixed onto a high-level box for a burpee. Units of measurement vary between number of breaths, repetitions, musical material, and time. The time commitment and resultant changes to my body through training intensively is an uncompromising element of preparation to perform the piece, a process which has been transformational for me on a number of levels.
The piece premiered as a work in progress in March 2018 at eavesdropping symposium at Oxford House (London) and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now. Subsequent performances include Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (in the University Sports Hall), Being Human Festival hosted at the Royal Northern College of Music, and at Snape Maltings.