Avant Media's "49 Waltzes"

01 Nov 2012

Avant Media, an organization that supports the production and performance of collaborative artistic projects, has set up a website that is designed to create a collaborative version of Cage’s 49 WALTZES FOR THE FIVE BOROUGHS. This work is a list of 147 locations in New York City at which one is instructed to either perform, listen, or record. Avant Media's elegant website allows anyone with internet access to contribute a digital record of the locations in the piece. I just sent them a video I created at 30th Avenue and 34th Street in Astoria on September 22, 2012. That’s Waltz 27.1. They are excepting audio recordings, photos, and videos. Go to: http://49waltzes.com/about.php Gene Caprioglio

John Cage Washington, D.C.

08 Aug 2012

In 1961 ONCE, in cooperation with the Dramatic Arts Center, presented a performance of the Cunningham Dance Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. ONCE was an informal organization of composers and other artists that presented a festival of new and experimental music each year in Ann Arbor. One of its founding members was Roger Reynolds. John Cage performed with the Cunningham Company as a musician for the performances. Now, over fifty years later, Roger Reynolds is once again involved in a festival that will be bringing Cage to the fore, this time in Washington, D.C. The John Cage Centennial Festival Washington D.C. is the most ambitious celebration of Cage’s 100th birthday in the U.S. It includes concerts, art exhibits, lectures, panels, workshops, and educational events running from Sept. 4-10, 2012. The impressive list of performers and other participants is too numerous to include here, many of whom knew and worked with Cage, and it is a rare opportunity to see and hear so many close associates, colleagues, and recognized interpreters of Cage brought together in one place. Reynolds, a composer of note himself, famously interviewed Cage in 1961, and was a performer in the Japanese premiere of Cage’s Music for Carillon No. 5 in Tokyo in 1969. Several composers have written tribute works dedicated to Cage for the festival, Reynolds among them. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio

Cage & Iran

30 Jul 2012

In 1972, John Cage traveled to Iran with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company to perform at the Shiraz Arts Festival, an annual event sponored by the Shah that featured the work of many cutting edge artists of the time, including Stockhausen and Xenakis. The Cunningham Company performed several works by John Cage, as well as a concert devoted to the works of Cage and Gordon Mumma. The Cunningham Company was invited again in 1976, but they declined the invitation. In 2007, the conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, Nader Mashayehki, led a group of students from the Tehran Conservatory in a performance of Cage's Four6. It was part of Burkhara magazine's Night of John Cage at the Beethoven Hall of the Iranian Artists' Forum. A perfunctory search online has produced no reviews or additional information about this performance. And now, June 30-July 30, 2012, the music of John Cage is once again heard in Iran, this time with a selection of Solos from his Song Books taking place in Tehran's East Art Gallery. Atila Pesyani, Payam Forutan, Mona Zandi, Hasan Majuni, Asghar Dashti, and Reza Haddad are some of the artists who are contributing to this project, organized by Amir Raad and Puya Ehsaii. A schedule and detailed information can be found at the East Art Gallery's website. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio


17 Jul 2012

I recently received an email from Bob Goldberg, a friend who teaches music to elementary school kids in Brooklyn. He had attached an audio file labeled 5'33". He's been experimenting over the years with introducing kids to 4'33" in an effort to encourage attentive listening and awareness of environmental sounds. (He says it also helps them settle down when they're agitated.) He starts with a minute of listening and says that it takes approximately three sessions to get a class engaged to the point where they actually listen. After listening, they describe the sounds they heard. One class became particularly interested in this exercise, especially when he used his iPod stopwatch to time them. "They've requested 4'33" on occasion," he says, "and they enjoy the challenge of just listening. Some fidget, some listen to the air, some to the floor. One day they asked if we could make it longer. We made it to 5'33". (It's 'One more.') I realize this is not a strictly authentic version -- we didn't observe the three movements of the piece -- but the intention was there." Submitted by Gene Caprioglio

Two Great Reads

14 Jul 2012

Two long overdue books have been published recently on the subject of John Cage and Eastern philosophy: Kay Larson's "Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists" (Penguin Press) and Ellen Pearlman's "Nothing and Everything: The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde 1942-1962" (North Atlantic/Evolver Editions). They couldn't be more different in terms of tone, scale, and scope, but both are pleasurable, informative reads. Beautiful additions to the ever-growing literature on John Cage. Submitted by Laura Kuhn

Ilan Volkov Talks About John Cage

14 Jul 2012

John Cage's works feature nicely in upcoming programming by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Ilan Volkov. Based in Glasgow, the BBC SSO is one of only five full-time orchestras maintained by the BBC, and is the oldest full-time orchestra in Scotland. See the Events Listings for detail about their upcoming program entitled "John Cage at 100," which features Cage's "Concerto for Prepared Piano" and "Atlas Eclipticalis/Winter Music". Conductor Ilan Volkov has done a nice interview on his experience with Cage's work, available online at http://www.youtube.com/user/bbcsso?feature=results_main. Submitted by Laura Kuhn

Chamber Music Magazine

11 May 2012

The cover story of the May-June 2012 issue of Chamber Music Magazine is “The Ensemble Music of John Cage,” written by the composer, music journalist, and new music advocate, Frank Oteri. Attempting a survey of Cage’s 279 chamber works in a five-page article is a daunting task, but Frank is definitely the man for the job, as he is amazingly thorough. He traverses Cage’s oeuvre from the first published works written in 1933 – Sonata for Two Voices and Three Songs for Voice and Piano – to the final “number pieces” from 1992, Two2 and Thirteen. The article is available for download at the Chamber Music America website. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio

Kudos for Apartment House!

09 May 2012

The British group Apartment House has won the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Chamber Music and Song category. Last night's award ceremony at The Dorchester in London saw Artistic Director Anton Lukoszevieze receive the award. The "Winner's Citation" read: "Apartment House's performances are always revelatyory, and the concert of John Cage's music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in September 2011 was an epiphany, confirming the status of Apartment House as one of the most innovative and exciting chamber ensembles in Europe." A special RPS Music Awards program will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on Sunday, May 13, 2012, at 2:00 pm. Congratulations all! Submitted by Laura Kuhn

Journal of BMC Studies: John Cage Issue

02 Mar 2012

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center has issued a call for submissions to its upcoming John Cage Issue of The Journal of Black Mountain Studies. The deadline is March 30 for a Fall 2012 publication. They are seeking creative works composed and performed in the spirit of John Cage with accompanying statements that explain the Cage connection. Mixed-media works are encouraged. Send text, video, and still images to Guest Editors: Rand Brandes, brandes@ir.edu or John Cheek, john.cheek@ir.edu. The Journal of Black Mountain College Studies is a peer-reviewed publication of The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, which sponsors an annual conference in cooperation with the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Last year's "John Cage: A Circle of Influences" (Sept. 30, 2011-Jan. 14, 2012) was a huge success. Read more at http://blackmountaincollege.org. Submitted by Laura Kuhn

Ripensando Cage

28 Dec 2011

I came back from the Christmas holiday and found an email in my inbox from Italy. It was from a consortium in Rome that's putting together a choreography contest called Ripensando Cage, which means "rethinking" or "reconsidering" Cage. The email is in Italian, so I got out my trusty dictionary and started translating. Ripensando Cage is the brainchild of Valentina Valentini, an Italian scholar (with an excellent name!) who teaches performance studies in the Art Department at the University of Calabria. The intent of the project is to encourage Italian choreographers to create a new work that reflects their relationship with the concepts of John Cage, but not necessarily by using his stylistic vocabulary. The winner will receive a monetary prize to put toward a production of their work. I may be in over my head in translating sophisticated material of this nature, so if anyone from Ripensando Cage wants to add to (or subtract from) what I've written, please let me know. For those who may wish to participate or are simply interested in learning more, here's a link to their website: http://www.arboreto.org/pr-ripensando_cage.htm And, finally, to all those Italian choregraphers who enter, buona fortuna! Submitted by Gene Caprioglio

50th Anniversary edition of Silence!

24 Dec 2011

Silence, Cage's first book and epic masterpiece, was first published by Wesleyan University Press in October 1961. In these lectures, scores, and writings, Cage tries, as he says, to find a way of writing that comes from ideas, is not about them, but rather produces them. Often these writings inlcude mesostics and essay created by subjecting the work of other writers and artists to chance operations. Now, fifty years later, comes a beautiful new edition from Wesleyan University Press, with a beautiful foreword by eminent music critic Kyle Gann. A landmark book in American arts and culture, Silence has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold over half a million copies worldwide. Wesleyan University is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the book's publication with this special hardcover edition. To order direct from the publisher, go to http://www.upne.com/0819571762.html. It's also available as an ebook, so check with your favorite ebook retailer. Submitted by Laura Kuhn

Cage in Unlikely Places

22 Oct 2011

Yesterday was an auspicious day for Buffalo, N.Y. with a tour provided by the University of Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, Alumni Relations, and Office of Development of a significant part of the city’s industrial landscape: four mammoth grain elevators. While visitors made guided stops in all four structures, the Marine “A” elevator was host to a photographic exhibit by Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agree Professor of American Culture at U.B., which provided a rare glimpse into hidden aspects of the Buffalo River environment. And since all machinery had been removed in advance of the tour, this giant hollow structure also hosted a “sensory experience” reception at which CUBE Music Ensemble performed John Cage’s Four6. The tour coincides with the opening of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference taking place in Buffalo this week. The grain elevators, owned by Rick Smith, tell much of Buffalo’s beer “story,” since this is where all of the malt was actually made. Refreshments provided included samples of Buffalo’s locally brewed Flying Bison Beer. Submitted by Laura Kuhn

Roulette's Musicircus

09 Jul 2011

I attended the MUSICIRCUS that was organized by Roulette on June 4th, 2011. Roulette, the venerable new music venue, is moving from Soho to Brooklyn, and this was a preview event put on as part of the Atlantic Avenue Art Walk. Cage created his first MUSICIRCUS on November 17, 1967, in the University Stock Pavilion at the University of Illinois. A MUSICIRCUS is an event where performers are invited to play or do whatever they like in a given space at a given time. They are not necessarily meant to play together, just simultaneously, and without hierarchy. The Roulette edition was, I thought, true to Cage’s intentions, and the results were quite beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the marching band, Himalayas, that was mostly playing in front of the building but which would periodically march or dance through the performance space. As I sat listening, I mused in my music publisher mode about how ostensibly complicated the performance rights are for this piece, but, in the end, actually quite simple. I made a connection between 4’33” and MUSICIRCUS that I had not previously made: they are both empty vessels to be filled with sound. In 4’33”, it’s ambient sound. In a MUSICIRCUS, there is more control of the sounds that are heard, but the results are equally unpredictable. Either way the result is all Cage. If his name is on the program, it's a Cage composition. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio

Cage's 4'33"

20 Jun 2011

I received an inquiry a few months back about the publication date of the currently available edition of Cage’s 4’33”. This seems like it should be a fairly simple question to answer, but since the work came into the Peters’ catalogue along with everything else that Cage wrote before 1960, it has appeared in several versions under the same edition number. Pinning down the exact date was a bit difficult. I checked my personal copy of 4’33”, which I bought in 1982 during an exhibit of Cage's scores at the Whitney Museum. I was hoping to see him at a concert given during the exhibition and have him autograph it. He was there. I asked him for an autograph, and he asked me if I wanted a single or a double. I said I know what a single is so give me a double, and he proceeded to give me a sort of double exposure autograph. My autographed copy of 4'33” is an older version that was created on a typewriter, so I knew that the version we now sell was done after 1982. At the time, Peters produced “new issue” sheets for all new works, and we have a folder of all these sheets in our archives, so I just started in 1982 and paged through it until I came to April 1, 1986. There it was, the first entry for that date, 4’33”. The 1986 version has become a classic. It is a facsimile of a handwritten version done in Cage’s unmistakable calligraphy. But it might be a good idea to make all the versions of 4’33” available. Interest in this work still continues to grow almost 60 years after its premiere. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio

How We Handle Things (Mostly)

31 Mar 2011

In response to a query from a potential presenter in Europe, who wanted to know whether or not we wanted to send someone from either the John Cage Trust or C.F. Peters in New York to oversee a performance, Gene Caprioglio had this to say: "Hi, I’m belatedly chiming in on this one. In music, not just Cage, but all music, there is no quality control. We just send it out, and what happens, happens. It’s the performers responsibility to get it right. On any given day, I’m sure someone is murdering Beethoven somewhere. Best, Gene" Submitted by Laura Kuhn

A Red Letter Day!

05 Mar 2011

According to Suzanna Tamminen, editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press, Silence is now the first publication by John Cage available in an epdf format at online e-booksellers! Look for it at Powells and Borders. The very first copy was purchased on March 2, 2011, at 3:36 p.m. EST. I like to think that John Cage would be amazed. Submitted by Laura Kuhn

44 Harmonies Has Arrived!

07 Feb 2011

One noteworthy event of the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration of the American Revolution was an NEA commission for a new work by John Cage -- actually, a joint commission with the orchestras in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia. Cage produced Renga With Apartment House 1776, an amazing, underperformed masterpiece of the 20th century, as a musicircus, with 44 Harmonies as one of its components. Cage devised the compositional technique of "subtraction" for the 44 Harmonies by applying chance operations to works by such 18th-century New England Congregationalists as William Billings, Jacob French, and Andrew Law. Essentially, he took 4-part compositions by them and removed notes at chance-determined intervals. The resulting works, as Cage described them, retained the flavor of the originals, but were transformed, since "the cadences and everything disappeared." Irvine Arditti made a string quartet arrangement of the 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776 in 2005, which the Arditti Quartet promptly recorded and released (Mode Records 144/145). I'm happy to report that the Peters edition is off press and now available for sale. This insightful interpretation of a very beautiful piece is a welcome addition to Cage's substantial body of works for string quartet. Arditti's association with John Cage dates back to 1988, when he performed Book I of Cage's Freeman Etudes in the composer's presence. Cage was so impressed that he went on to complete Book II, which had been stalled for years. Cage's admiration of the violinist was clear: he once said of Arditti that when he plays, "the impossible is not impossible." Submitted by Gene Caprioglio, 2/3/11

The Review That Never Was

03 Feb 2011

Years ago, British musicologist Peter Dickinson, editor of the beautiful compilation entitled CageTalk: Dialogues With and About John Cage (University of Rochester Press, 2006), suggested to Gramophone that the best review they could give to any new recording of Cage's 4'33" would be a blank page. Well, they did it! In this month's issue, on page 68, is a review of Cage's 4'33" as recorded and made available via download from iTunes, Amazon, HMV, and 7Digital in the context of the UK Campaign known as "Cage Against the Machine." It appears without comment of any kind. It's sandwiched between reviews of new recordings of works by Bartok/Rihm (NEOS) by Arnold Whittall and Franck/Grieg/Janacek (DG) by Dundan Druce. Does Peter Dickinson get a by-line? He does, and a check! Submitted by Laura Kuhn, 2/3/11

Cage on Pandora

30 Jan 2011

I sometimes have data entry jobs to do here at Peters, so when I'm doing a particularly rote rask, I will often tune into Pandora. I was listening to John Cage Radio the other day, and it occurred to me that Pandora is somewhat of a chance operation for the listener. If you stay with it, there can be some startling juxtapositions. For those unfamiliar with Pandora (www.pandora.com), this is an Internet radio station into which you enter the name of a composer or performer (or the title of a musical work), and it then creates a station that plays music based in varying ways on your selection. It's run by software called the Music Genome Project (www.pandora.com/mgp.shtml), which analyzes music according to hundreds of criteria and then categorizes it, based on the results. If you put in Miles Davis, for example, you're likely to get a lot of trumpet jazz. There are a couple of things that intrigue me about John Cage Radio. First, it fixates on piano pieces whether it starts with Cage works or not, which makes me think their Cage library is probably small. This is likely true, since, second, it seems to proceed from Cage to Schoenberg or Boulez or Babbitt fairly quickly, usually within 5 or 10 selections. It has never, to date, gone to Erik Satie. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio, 1/29/11

John Cage & You Tube

14 Jan 2011

C.F. Peters recently received notice from ASCAP that it had successfully concluded its licensing agreement with You Tube, retroactive to 2008. I thought it might prove fruitful to do one of my periodic John Cage You Tube searches, which today garnered some 5,270 results. Several of these results relate to the TV show "Ally McBeal," and Barry White, the singer (John Cage was the name of a character on the show, who drew inspiration from the music of Barry White), while others are in one way or another tributes to John Cage. But the overwhelming majority are videos of either Cage himself or performances of his music. Cage’s 4’33” tops the list with numerous performances, including an orchestral version from the BBC (1,774,161 viewings), a death metal cover (493 viewings – not actually 4’33” long), several solo guitar performances, “Cage Against the Machine” (23,369 viewings), a Second Life piano performance (100 viewings), and many, many more. Actually, in total 533. Cage’s Water Walk (most notable within the “I’ve Got a Secret” episode) has garnered just shy of 1,000,000 viewings so far. And there were quite a few versions of In a Landscape (306 videos), Sonatas and Interludes (167 videos), and Third Construction (50 videos). To gain some perspective on these numbers, I searched You Tube for other composers and works. Bela Bartok’s Mikrokosmos came in at 308, and there were 5,150 for Bartok himself. Bach was huge with 323,000. He eclipsed Bruce Springsteen at 94,200 (I think Bruce must be exercising control over content). Franz Schubert is not nearly as popular as Bach at 72,500. Terry Riley’s In C, which I think of as iconic a work as Cage’s 4’33”, produced 306 results. There were 127,000 results for Louie, Louie, with Iggy Pop’s cover coming close to garnering as many viewings (1,432,797) as the BBC’s 4’33”. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t check on the results for Taylor Swift (705,000) and Justin Bieber (1,150,000). They both write their own material, so they deserve consideration here. What have I learned from this unsystematic perusal of music on You Tube? First of all, I learned that between 4:00 PM on January 13, 2011 and 10:30 AM on January 14, 2011, over 1,500 people watched the BBC 4’33” video. I also learned that there are a lot of unauthorized arrangements of Cage’s music out there (please be in touch). But, probably the most important and heartening information I gleaned was that classical music is well represented on You Tube. People are listening. I think Cage would be pleased. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio, 1/14/11

“Just in Time for the Holidays: Cage Against the Machine”

15 Dec 2010

The musicians crowded into a London studio, dozens of them, to record a song for charity. Waiting for their cue, they held guitars and drumsticks, and stood at attention by the microphones. Then the producer gave the count: “Quiet in the studio: one, two …” And then silence. Exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds of it. The musicians, including British pop stars like Billy Bragg, the electronic act Orbital and the band Enter Shikari, were there to perform Cage’s famous tribute to nothingness, “4’ 33”,” as part of a project cheekily called Cage Against the Machine whose goal is to send an unlikely song to the top of the British pop chart at Christmas. Last year a Facebook campaign helped the anarchist American rock band Rage Against the Machine reach No. 1 with “Killing in the Name,” and now another Web effort is behind Cage Against the Machine. A single is available on iTunes (you can even buy an EP with seven “remixes” of studio chatter and other random sounds), with proceeds going to five British charities. “Music is made up of more than just formal notes and arrangements,” Julie Hilliard, one of the organizers, told the musicians as they prepared for their silent take. “Here today we are doing something special. We are stopping and appreciating the space between things, the unintentional sounds that make up our world.” In addition to iTunes, the download is also available at 7digital.com, amazon.com, play.com, and hmvdigital.com. A video of the Dean St. Studio recording session is viewable at youtube.com. Submitted by Laura Kuhn, 12/15/10

New C F. Peters Publications

14 Dec 2010

Cage has now been gone for almost 20 years, but there is still a wealth of material to be published: engraved editions of works previously only available in manuscript, new and compelling arrangements of old works, and new publications of previously unavailable works. Peters is currently working on several new editions and arrangements that I thought might be of interest to visitors to this website. A new arrangement of the 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776 for string quartet by Irvine Arditti is ready to go to the printer. The Arditti Quartet recorded these arrangements for Mode Records a few years ago. This will be the first time that all 44 Harmonies are available for sale. It is scheduled to be released in late 2010. We are in the final stages of preparing an engraved and edited version of The City Wears a Slouch Hat. This work has been around for a few years in manuscript form for rent, but now the greatly improved score will be available for sale and the easier to read parts will be for rent. This work will be available in late 2010 or early 2011. There are few other projects waiting in the wings: arrangements of Cage’s early piano works for guitar and prepared guitar, a version of Party Pieces for saxophone quartet, and Letters to Satie 1 and 2, and Variations VII for the first time. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio, 12/14/10

John Cage’s 33 1/3

10 Dec 2010

I sometimes think about what Cage would have made of the Internet and how he might have used it. He was always finding ways to use technology to suit his own designs. There are so many examples: Variations VII, Williams Mix, Cartridge Music, and one of my favorites, Telephones and Birds, to name just a few. Over the past couple of years I have been trying to gather information on another of the works where Cage re-imagines the use of a machine or technology to create a new piece of music, 33 1/3. 33 1/3 was first performed at the University of California Davis in 1969. It basically consisted of 8 or 12 record players and 300 LPs scattered around a large room. People were encouraged to walk among them and play whatever records they wanted to play. Through the years people have inquired about this piece at C.F. Peters, so I set about informing myself. Bits and pieces have been dribbling in ever since. I now have a pretty good idea of what happened. Larry Austin and Charles Amirkhanian both helped a lot. But I think that this space might be a great place to gather more information about 33 1/3. It’s not a radical redefining of the Internet a la John Cage, but it works for me. Submitted by Gene Caprioglio, 12/10/10

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