orchestra silenced at the Barbican and on Radio 3
Cage Uncaged: A weekend of musical mayhem
16 – Sunday 18 January 2004, Barbican
BBC Symphony Orchestra (SO) gives the first orchestral performance
in the UK of John Cage's seminal silent work 4'33" in the opening
concert of its forthcoming annual Composer Weekend at the Barbican
on Friday (16 January 2004).
Radio 3 is broadcasting the performance live and is the first broadcaster
to risk airing nearly five minutes of ambient silence, with BBC
FOUR broadcasting it an hour later.
3's emergency backup systems, designed to cut in when there is apparent
silence on air, are to be switched off.
demonstrates Cage's view that all sound is music and that, "Wherever
we are what we hear mostly is noise".
wrote: "… When we ignore noise, it disturbs us. When
we listen to it, we find it fascinating."
is just one of the events in the BBC's forthcoming John
Cage Uncaged at the Barbican from Friday 16 to Sunday 18
January, a packed weekend of concerts, talks, films and 'happenings'
to celebrate the life, influences and legacy of this maverick musician,
writer, artist, mushroom expert and cultural icon who died in 1992.
weekend also includes the largest ever Musicircus to be staged in
Europe with more than 345 people divided into 51 groups performing
simultaneously or carrying out various actions in unexpected places
throughout the Barbican in two separate 45-minute events on Saturday
some of the sonic collisions taking place include Led Zeppelin's
John Paul Jones playing a flashing bass guitar, members of the BBC
Symphony Chorus having a dinner party on the foyer, amplified cacti
(kindly lent to the BBC by Kew Gardens), one man playing five tubas
connected by 16 feet of tubing and singers disguised as Barbican
staff who will sing information to you.
will be a host of well known groups and performers from Piano Circus
to Chinese Erhu player Tzy-Tau Weh and Pete Cooper's Irish Band
to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Percussion Ensemble,
who also give a late night Barbican Hall concert featuring Cage's
great works for percussion.
the other highlights are an 18-hour performance of Erik Satie's
marathon piano work Vexations given by more than 50 pianists from
top classical performers and composers to jazz stars Django Bates
and Julian Joseph.
will also be a performance of material from Cage's Songbooks which
involves sopranos Frances M Lynch and Nicole Tibbels, along with
pianist Rolf Hind, drinking gin, eating crisps, playing cards and
having a party, as well as singing.
BBC SO's annual January Composer Weekends at the Barbican have become
highlights in London's musical life, bringing the music of leading
twentieth, and now twenty-first century, composers to the fore in
a concentrated festival.
January Weekends offer an unrivalled retrospective of musicians
who have shaped the course of classical music and have recently
included Alfred Schnittke, John Adams and Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Cage Uncaged promises to be one of the most spectacular January
Weekends yet with various artists and ensembles joining the BBC
Symphony Orchestra for events in the Barbican Hall, foyers and conservatory,
St Giles Cripplegate and LSO St Luke's.
Barbican Hall concerts feature an extensive range of music by Cage
and the BBC Symphony Chorus gives the world premiere of Cage's Variations
I for Stephen Montague (1958/90), realised by the dedicatee.
set Cage in his context there's music by his American predecessors
that will surprise by Antheil, Cowell and Ives alongside the mainstream
as represented by Copland, Schuman and Alan Hovhaness while his
contemporaries and successors are represented by the members of
the New York School: Brown, Feldman and Wolff.
weekend also includes a line-up of talks with an introduction to
the mushroom garden by leading gardening expert Sefan Buczacki taking
place in the weekend's very own mushroom garden.
will also be a panel discussion examining Cage's legacy and films
including Elliot Caplan's portrait of Cage and his relationship
with his life-long companion Merce Cunningham and Peter Greenaway's
insightful hour-long film.
of the weekend is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and there is a host
of features, interval talks and discussions to complement the music.
opening concert is broadcast on BBC FOUR.
cost between £5.50 and £16.00 (many events are free)
and can be obtained by telephone - 0845 120 7596 - or online
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Symphony Orchestra - Barbican season 2003-2004 (14.11.03)
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