Don’t miss out on tomorrow night’s annual, free performance of John Cage’s 4’33” at WAAM.
If you’re in Woodstock on Saturday August 29th, you won’t want to miss this special anniversary event. With a performance by Clear Light Ensemble and a session with special guest speaker – Kay Larson, acclaimed art critic and author of Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists – for John Cage fans, this is an event not to be missed.
For those not familiar with John Cage and his radical performance, here’s some background on how this piece came to be.
Anti-Music and 4’33”: Because of Cage’s work in chance music, he gained the confidence needed to revisit a composition that contained his most radical and alternative musical idea to date. This work began when he was studying the principles of Indian music philosophy and Japanese Zen Buddhism. In 1946, Cage met Indian musician Gita Sarabhai, who introduced him to Indian philosophy and music (Sadie, 797).
He told Cage that in Indian philosophy, music’s purpose was, “…to quiet and sober the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences.” Sarabhai insisted that silence had a specific place in music, the same as sound. Cage later studied Japanese philosophy at Columbia College with Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki and found a similar message. Zen Buddhism revered silence, and Cage took personal solace and professional interest in the Ryoanji stone garden in Kyoto, Japan, a place of quiet tranquility encouraging silent thought and reflection (Sadie, 797).
As a result of this marriage between Indian and Japanese philosophies, Cage began working on two pieces that examined different methods of removing purposeful sound. The first was a string quartet where each part consisted of a limited set of sounds. When the parts were performed together, the result did not produce harmonies, but rather a static, white noise. The second was a piece he had begun in 1948 entitled Silent Prayer. This 4’30” work was to consist of complete and total silence, reflecting the tranquility and peace he found in the Japanese rock gardens….
READ MORE: SOURCE: 20th Century Classical