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Music in the News
Thursday 06 September 2001
Vocabulary from the world of music. Listen to and read the story then find explanations of difficult words below.

  John Cage
The world's longest music performance
Summary: The world's longest performance of a piece of music has begun in a small East German town. An organ composition by the revolutionary American composer John Cage will last 639 years. This report from Rob Broomby:
The News Listen
  It was originally a piece for piano lasting just 20 minutes, and entitled 'ASLSP'. But the organisers of the concert decided to take the American composer John Cage quite literally. The performance is scheduled to last a staggering 639 years. But the audience, gathering at the former monastery in Halberstadt, won't hear the first chord for another year and a half.

All they'll get on the night is the mellow sound of the organ's bellows being inflated. If that fails to take the audience's breath away, the organisers, the John Cage Project, have laid on a dance performance and two connected organ concerts, conducted at a more sprightly pace to fill the gap.

The organisers say the lengthy performance is supposed to contrast with the hectic pace of change in the modern world. Halberstadt is known for its famous organs, and the duration of the piece was chosen to reflect the building of the first of a series, 639 years ago.

If everything goes to plan, the audience could be allowed an interval for refreshments and a nip to the loo in about three centuries. Allowing for a couple of curtain calls, they'll probably spill out onto the streets looking for a taxi in the second half of the millennium.

The Words Listen  
the common abbreviation meaning 'as slow as possible'

  take literally
if you take a word or expression literally, you think that it is being used in its most simple, basic meaning

very surprising, amazing

a chord is a number of musical notes played at the same time

a device used for blowing air

  take the audience's breath away
if something takes your breath away, it is extremely beautiful or surprising

  laid on
if you lay on entertainment, you provide it, often in a grand or generous way

lively, active

very busy, involving a lot of rushed activity

  curtain calls
when performers take a curtain call, they come forward to the front of the stage after the performance to receive the applause of the audience

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