5 Questions for Toy Pianist Amy O’Dell

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AmyO'DellFrom experimental chamber rock to avant-garde, Amy O’Dell thunder punches the Atlanta music scene. She connects these worlds with a passionate and focused energy that permeates her performances. Amy is known as the quirky, energetic keytarist/keyboardist in Clibber Jones Ensemble appearing in venues all over Atlanta. Since 2012 she has been the adventurous, imaginative pianist of Chamber Cartel. Amy’s involvement in these groups has led her to collaborate and commission numerous works from composers in the US and Europe. She can be heard on albums by the Clibber Jones Ensemble and Chamber Cartel. Amy’s latest projects will be a tour across the U.S. of toy piano and percussion music with Chamber Cartel partner-in-crime, Caleb Herron. She will also be releasing a CD of solo toy piano music in December 2015! www.amy-odell.com

Amy O’Dell will join colleagues from across the globe at the 2016 Florida International Toy Piano Festival in January 2016 presented by The New Music Conflagration, Inc.

1) How did you first become interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument?
I first became interested in the toy piano as a concert instrument after hearing the music of Yann Tiersen for the film Amelie in 2001 which included quite a bit of toy piano. In fact, my first toy piano was in search for a similar Michelsonne toy piano he uses often for his music. I had it shipped all the way from France. Oh the things we do for such a delightful instrument!  I later discovered Phyllis Chen and Margaret Leng Tan and they immediately became my role models.

 2) What influenced you to apply for the festival?
A couple of days after I played a premiere toy piano concert, Aaron Michael Butler (whose piece I had just premiered) sent me a link to the festival website and told me he was submitting his piece and I had to play it. Of course, I was in.  New music people are already the best people to nerd out with, but toy piano new music people are in a whole different kind of awesome nerd category.

3) Who is your favorite toy piano composer and why?
I’m not sure if I can answer this question. Immediately several composers such as Karlheinz Essl, Otto Lechner, and John Cage popped into my head. It’s so difficult to narrow down because so many composers have such a creative and unique voice on this wonderful instrument.

4) What do you see as the future of toy piano?
To continue from the last question, I think this instrument somehow brings so much imagination to one’s mind. Everyone, despite their musical background or knowledge, immediately has a connection with it. I believe this instrument can become the gateway for anyone to become interested and involved in New Music today.

5) What local place or thing are you most excited to experience during your visit to the Tampa Bay Area for the festival
I look forward to seeing the beach! To be completely honest though I can’t wait to meet and nerd-out with other folks obsessed with toy piano! I believe our faces are going to be sore by the end from smiling/laughing so much. It’s going to be a grand time!



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