John Cage Invites You to a Party

November 7, 2013

United StatesUnited States (125 Composers), Cage100 Party Pieces: Either/Or, Richard Carrick (conductor), Miller Theatre, New York City. 17.10.2013 (BH)

Either/Or
Richard Carrick, conductor
Michelle Farah, oboe
Brad Balliett, bassoon
Gareth Flowers, trumpet
Chris McIntyre, trombone
William Schimmel, accordion
David Shively, percussion
Stephen Gosling, piano
Esther Noh, violin
Erin Wight, viola
Caleb van der Swaagh, cello
Margaret Lancaster, toy piano

Composers, Group 1
1. Joachim Heintz (Hannover, Germany)
2. Ed Jacobs (Greenville, NC)
3. Steingrimur Rohloff (Copenhagen, Denmark)
4. Patrik Bishay (Bad Homburg, Germany)
5. Aristides Strongylis (Leipzig, Germany)
6. Randy Norsdchow (Brooklyn, NY)
7. Steven Mackey (Princeton, NJ)
8. Hannes Seidl (Frankfurt, Germany)
9. Joseph Dangerfield (Fayetteville, WV)
10. Valerio Sannicandro (Paris, France)
11. Evan Johnson (Arlington, MA)
12. Dominick Argento (Minneapolis, MN)
13. David A. Jaffee (Berkeley, CA)
14. Klaus-Hinrich Stahmer (Wuerzburg, Germany)
15. Nathaniel Tull Phillips (Portland, OR)
16. Johannes K. Hildebrandt (Weimar, Germany)
17. Marcos Balter (Chicago, IL)
18. Lei Liang (San Diego, CA)
19. James Aikman (Ann Arbor, MI)
20. Mary Jane Leach (Valley Falls, NY)
21. Elizabeth Brown (Brooklyn, NY)
22. Eric Marty (Athens, GA)
23. Žibuoklė Martinaitytė (New York, NY)
24. Keeril Makan (Cambridge, MA)
25. Lothar Voigtländer (Berlin, Germany)

Composers, Group 2
1. Mario Wiegand (Weiman, Germany)
2. Annie Gosfield (New York, NY)
3. John King (New York, NY)
4. Huck Hodge (Seattle, WA)
5. Gerhard Stäbler (Düsseldorf, Germany)
6. Robert Carl (Hartford, CT)
7. Giorgos Kyriakakis (Berlin, Germany/Thessaloniki, Greece)
8. Ali N. Askin (Berlin, Germany)
9. Ralf Hoyer (Berlin, Germany)
10. Susanne Stelzenbach (Berlin, Germany)
11. Matthew Burtner (Charlottesville, VA)
12. Volker Heyn (Karlsruhe, Germany)
13. Vivienne Olive (Nuremberg, Germany)
14. Dean Drummond (Montclair, NJ)
15. Anne La Berge (Amsterdam, Nethrlands)
16. Hans-Joachim Hespos (Ganderkesee, Germany)
17. Rene C. Hirschfeld (Berlin, Germany)
18. Mia Schmidt (Germany)
19. Manuel Hidalgo (Stuttgart, Germany)
20. Randy Gibson (New York, NY)
21. Paul Lansky (Princeton Junction, NJ)
22. Jason Eckardt (Kerhonkson, NY)
23. Burton Goldstein (Santa Monica, CA)
24. Kunsu Shim (Düsseldorf, Germany)
25. Dieter Mack (Lübeck, Germany)
26. Jeffrey Holmes (Los Angeles, CA)

Composers, Group 3
1. Gerald Eckert (Seoul, South Korea/Eckernförde, Germany)
2. Juan Campoverde (Evanston, IL)
3. Peter M. Hamel (Munich, Germany)
4. Reso Kiknadze (Lübeck, Germany)
5. Hans Tutschku (Boston, MA)
6. Hans Zender (Freiburg, Germany)
7. Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf (Leipzig, Germany)
8. Fumie Shikichi (Meldorf, Germany)
9. Joel Hoffman (Cincinnati, OH)
10. Joan La Barbara (New York, NY)
11. Alex Freeman (Northfield, MN)
12. Gabriel Iranyi (Berlin, Germany)
13. Mayako Kubo (Berlin, Germany)
14. Hubert Hoche (Helmstadt, Germany)
15. Luke Dahn (Orange City, IA)
16. Boris Yoffe (Karlsruhe, Germany)
17. Stefan Streich (Berlin, Germany)
18. Annette Schlünz (Starsbourg, Germany)
19. Joël-François Durand (Seattle, WA)
20. Peter Ruzicka (Hamburg, Germany)
21. Byron Au Yong (Seattle, WA)
22. Peter Helmut Lang (Weimar, Germany)

INTERMISSION

Composers, Group 4
1. Alexander Schubert (Hamburg, Germany)
2. David Plylar (Durban, South Africa/Washington, DC)
3. Tobias Giesen (Neuenkirchen, Germany)
4. Mike Svoboda (Basel, Switzerland)
5. Scott Unrein (Portland, OR)
6. David T. Little (Weehawken, NJ)
7. Dieter Schnebel (Berlin, Germany)
8. Detlev Müller-Siemens (Vienna, Austria)
9. Helmut Oehring (Waldsieversdorf, Germany)
10. Roman Yakub (Amherst, MA)
11. Inouk Demers (Los Angeles, CA)
12. Marta Ptaszyńska (Chicago, IL)
13. Christopher Adler (San Diego, CA)
14. Paul Pinto (Jersey City, NJ)
15. Larry Polansky (Hanover, NH)
16. Derek Hurst (Malden, MA)
17. Steve Antosca (Washington, DC)
18. Jan Bach (Dekalb, IL)
19. Manfred Stahnke (Hamburg, Germany)
20. David Macbride (Hartford, CT)
21. Conrad Cummings (New York, NY)
22. Alexandre Lunsqui (São Paulo, Brazil)
22. Carlos Sandoval (Berlin, Germany)
24. Michael Edward Edgerton (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
25. Bun-Ching Lam (Montlaur, France)

Composers, Group 5
1. Alexander Keuk (Dresden, Germany)
2. Bill Alves (Claremont, CA)
3. Knut Müller (Leipzig, Germany)
4. Iris ter Schiphorst (Berlin, Germany)
5. Jing Jing Luo (Oberlin, OH)
6. Georg Hajdu (Hamburg, Germany)
7. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (Berlin, Germany)
8. Michael Gordon (New York, NY)
9. Peter Michael von der Nahmer (Munich, Germany)
10. Richard Carrick (New York, NY)
11. Dániel Péter Biró (Victoria, BC, Canada)
12. Ulrich Leyendecker (Gaugrehweiler, Germany)
13. Sidney Corbett (Berlin/Mannheim, Germany)
14. Uros Rojko (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
15. Gordon Kampe (Essen, Germany)
16. Kamran Ince (Memphis, TN)
17. Michael Denhoff (Bonn, Germany)
18. Alvin Lucier (Middletown, CT)
19. Moritz Eggert (Ahrenshoop, Germany)
20. Charlotte Seither (Berlin, Germany)
21. Robert HP Platz (Cologne, Germany)
22. Vera Ivanova (Santa Ana, CA)
23. Dimitri Terzakis (Leipzig, Germany)
24. Georg Klein (Berlin, Germany)
25. John Eaton (North Bergen, NJ)
26. Laura Kaminsky (New York, NY)
27. Nicolaus A. Huber (Essen, Germany)

As part of the worldwide celebration of the centenary of John Cage, the Forum for Contemporary Music Leipzig (Forum Zeitgenössischer Musik Leipzig, or FZML) decided to execute one of Cage’s ideas from the mid-1940s. Following predetermined rules, a group of composers wrote short pieces—each linked to the one before it and lasting no more than 60 seconds—to be combined into one massive composition. All participants were unaware of which composer preceded them; they were only given the final measure of the preceding work.

The small pieces were then compiled, arranged by chance using the i-Ching, and then assembled into five groups—in effect, “movements”—for a chamber ensemble of 11 players. The results, played by Either/Or and led by Richard Carrick, produced one of the year’s most exhilarating evenings.

While it’s impossible to comment on all 125 works (though I was able to identify a few), the way in which composers treated the project and how they allocated time could be roughly categorized: some used the entire ensemble as a block, offering density and impenetrability. Others created in effect “mini-concertos,” highlighting one of the instruments sailing over the rest. Still others took an oblique view, turning the entire acoustic array into a percussion ensemble or alternatively, mining Cage’s respect for silence. Minimalist Randy Gibson used his characteristic drone, overlaid with other materials. Joan La Barbara had the entire group joined in sibilant breathing; similarly, another directed the musicians to kiss their instruments (think loud smooching).

Still others carried on Cage’s spirit by yawning, stretching, groaning—even throwing a percussion mallet against the back wall. One segment resembled a patriotic hymn, and another, an ancient, sad folk song—both suddenly cut short by their successors. And at one point Carrick stepped away from the podium to erase and mark on an amplified table, creating muffled scratching.

A thrilling (and funny) sequence came near the end, when flutist Margaret Lancaster suddenly rushed onstage from the wings, only to sit down on an impossibly tiny piano bench before an impossibly tiny toy piano. A stagehand deftly placed a large-screen digital timer nearby, facing the audience, counting the seconds for Cage’s 4’33” as Lancaster sat in an amusingly awkward pose (given her tall stature), while the rest of the ensemble simultaneously continued its wild march toward the finish line. Just before the timer hit 4’33”, she switched it off, stood up and fled, panic-stricken, as if reaching the magic number might cause something catastrophic.

Bruce Hodges

 

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