Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Center celebrates John Cage's 100th birthday at UB and all around Buffalo

Join us next week and throughout April for a celebration of John Cage’s music for his 100th birthday. University at Buffalo faculty and graduate students will be performing John Cage’s pieces at UB and around the city of Buffalo for the rest of the spring to honor the man who relentlessly pioneered and innovated in nearly all forms of art, including poetry, film, multimedia installation, theater, and performance art, as well as in a plethora of musical genres and compositional styles. The upcoming John Cage concerts will feature many of Cage’s myriad approaches to composition, and showcase pieces composed during all the various periods of his long and very productive life. John Cage has long been a deeply respected friend of the University at Buffalo Department of Music, as he was a regular June in Buffalo Faculty Composer from as far back as 1975, a frequent collaborator with Lejaren Hiller, and close personal friend of UB Composer Morton Feldman.
John Cage

The celebration begins next week on Wednesday, March 21st, at 7:30 p.m. in Slee Hall with a free concert of the complete Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano performed by UB Professor and New York Philharmonic pianist-in-residence Eric Huebner. The piano will be ‘prepared’ ahead of time with screws, bolts, pennies, weather stripping, washers, and pieces of rubber, wood, and bamboo, all strategically inserted and threaded into the piano’s strings. The score diligently maps out the placement of the materials within the piano strings to a quarter of an inch, catalyzing the many delicate interactions between the strings’ harmonics and the preparation materials and achieving an astonishing variety of textures and timbres. At the premiere of the Sonatas and Interludes in 1949, the critic for The New York Times wrote that the work, “left one with the feeling that Mr. Cage is one of this country’s finest composers and that his invention [the prepared piano] has now been vindicated musically.” Eric Huebner’s piano students will also showcase their talents throughout the evening and perform certain selections from the Sonatas and Interludes.

The following week there will be a concert of John Cage’s early works at Buffalo’s Hallwalls on Tuesday, March 27th, at 8:00 p.m., presented by Tom Kolor and the UB Contemporary Ensemble. Some of the works to be performed include Sonata for Clarinet, Solo with obligato accompaniment, and John Cage’s very first percussion piece, Trio, which features Cage’s love for including atypical percussion materials such as wooden planks, bamboo, twigs, and an impressive assortment of drums and other percussion instruments.

The birthday celebration will continue into April with an afternoon concert at Villa Maria College on April 19th, where UB percussionist Shelly Purdy will perform Cage’s indeterminate work 27’ 10.554”.  The final concert in the John Cage series will be back at the University at Buffalo’s Slee Hall on April 24th and feature performances by UB Performance Faculty and the UB Contemporary Ensemble, check in next month at the Center’s website for details.

Below is a video of Sonatas VII and XVI from the Sonatas and Interludes, performed by James Tenney at the Schindler House in 2002.

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