The Player-Piano Project at Stanford University
Stanford University’s Player Piano Project is an ambitious initiative to promote the study and research of all aspects of the player piano and organ. Stanford holds one of the largest and most diverse collections of rolls worldwide, as well as player instruments and extensive source materials relating to the industry. A primary focus has been studies related to performance practices of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Player Piano Project will greatly increase accessibility of rolls for study and bring together researchers, musicians, and enthusiasts to advance knowledge of the medium.
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Kumaran Arul has performed widely as pianist throughout the United States and abroad to acclaim. He has been described as a “formidable…superbly intelligent and sensitive musician” with a “gripping” presence (San Francisco Classical Voice, Classical Sonoma). Arul is also actively involved with research in performance practice specializing in historical recordings. At Stanford University, where he has taught since 2003, he is co-director with George Barth, of the Reactions to the Record series that highlights new directions in performance and scholarship. These have included international symposia, concerts, seminars, workshops, and publications. In 2014, he spearheaded a major initiative at Stanford, the Player Piano Project, which aims to create an extensive online database of piano rolls. The project, in conjunction with the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, has amassed over 14,000 rolls and 15 player instruments in a multi-year effort to preserve and bring wider awareness to this important historical medium. His studies have been at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Michigan School of Music, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He resides in Santa Cruz, California with his wife and three children where he also enjoys pursuing his avid interest in birds and bird song.