SICPP: Cage, Wolff
June 17 - June 18, 2012
Open your ears and your mind at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP). It's a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in hearing where new music has been going, and to understand where it might be going next.
Legendary artists are in residence for this week of intensive musical study and performance, alongside seminar participants who are here for the sheer thrill of the avant garde. NEC's Stephen Drury is artistic director for this institute, and guest artists this year include Louis Goldstein, Joseph Kubera, and Steffen Schleiermacher.
Cage Music of Changes, Winter Music
Wolff Sonata (for three pianos)
performed by Stephen Drury, Louis Goldstein, Joseph Kubera, and Steffen Schleiermacher
As a continuation of NEC's celebration of John Cage, SICPP focuses this year on Cage's music as well as that of his colleague and friend Christian Wolff, who is SICPP composer-in-residence this year. Wolff was previously in residence at NEC in 2010.
Composer John Cage (1912–1992) paid attention to the 99% of sound that was not previously called "music." This even led him to explore what was previously thought of as "silence." Because he challenged existing notions of music in such a fundamental way, his ideas still provoke and inspire.
Music of Changes (1951) was Cage's first composition using chance operations (assisted by the I Ching). Precisely notated for specific actions beyond striking the keys of the piano, this draws richly on sounds beyond the piano's conventional repertoire without actually being a "prepared piano" piece.
Going far beyond chance operations into indeterminacy, the score for Winter Music allows an extremely variable number of simultaneous performers using material that can be sequenced in any way. "All the traditional dimensions of music are by intention free, free, free," writes Cage expert Richard Kostelanetz.
Christian Wolff is the last surviving member of the New York School of composers who revolutionized music in the 20th century. Along with Cage, Morton Feldman, and Earle Brown, Wolff has changed the way musicians across the spectrum think about composition and performance.
Wolff wrote his Sonata in 1957 for three pianos, played by four pianists, including Cage. And the pianos were prepared, à la Cage.