22 Aug 2014

The Alexander Piano

From Country Life, 9:17 pm on 22 August 2014

adrain for web Adrian and his piano at Alpine Farm in South Canterbury.

The largest grand piano in the world.

Despite having no formal training 15-year-old Adrian Mann decided that he was going to build a piano from scratch. It was going to be the world's largest and longest grand piano and four years later, he had successfully completed his masterpiece.

Named the Alexander Piano after Adrian’s great, great grandfather Alexander Barrie Mann, the piano is about the same width as a standard grand but is a whopping 5.7metres long and with it came many unusual challenges.

“A big challenge were the keys, the keys had to be about a metre long. It’s an ordinary keyboard but inside the piano it goes a long way back and I went through about four different designs and prototypes making it, before it actually worked. It definitely took alot of energy and thinking, even when I went to bed I was thinking how am I going to stop the keys from warping, or how am I going to get the strings to work so they don’t clang into each other!” Adrian says.

He started building the piano in a garage but soon realised that the instrument was going to be too big, so local farmers Peter and Jane Evans suggested he move the project to an implement shed on their 1000 hectare sheep and beef property in the Pareora Gorge near Timaru, where he completed the project.

The piano is still in the farm shed and regular concerts are held there to showcase its unique sound. University of Otago music teaching fellow Tom McGrath will be playing it there on August 29.

In September the piano is leaving the farm for Auckland where it'll be on display at the KBB Music store and in October it will be at the Trusts Stadium in Waitakere, where a pianist will perform the first movement of a Prokofiev's Piano Concerto with the Auckland Philharmonia.

Adrian for web