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Program Information
All Things Cage
Weekly program featuring conversations between Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust, and Cage experts and enthusiasts from around the world.
Weekly Program
Weekly program featuring conversations between Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust, and Cage experts and enthusiasts from around the world.
 Wave Farm/WGXC 90.7-FM  Contact Contributor
Jan. 18, 2024, midnight
"All Things Cage" is a weekly program featuring conversations between Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust, and Cage experts and enthusiasts from around the world. If youd like to propose a guest or a topic for a future program, write directly to Laura at Kuhn presents the first recording of John Cages Europera 5, preceded by her reading Recollections of the Premiere Performance by Yvar Mikhashoff. This recording of Europera 5 was produced by Brian Brandt and released on the Mode Records label as Mode 36 in 1995, with performers Yvar Mikhashoff, Martha Herr, Gary Burgess, Jan Williams, and Don Metz. Europera 5 is the last and most diminutive of Cages operas " preceded by Europeras 1 & 2 (1984-1987) and Europeras 3 & 4 (1991) " and was instigated by pianist Yvar Mikashoffs desire for a small, more practical and portable, and more easily performed work in the series, which had its premiere in Buffalo at the North American New Musical Festival on April 12, 1991.
Laura Kuhn writes, Tonights program continues with Part II of a Birthday Celebration Broadcast, in effect an opera mix being created with and for the Great John Cage, that began with Part I here on All Things Cage last week. This program was created in 1987, when Cage was in the throes of his work on Europeras 1 & 2 for the Frankfurt Oper on the occasion of the institution of its new director/conductor, Gary Bertini. The program and thus its broadcast ran three hours in its entirety, mostly taken up by the working process required to mix and remix opera snippets by turntable engineers working with recordings brought together in the studios of WKCR 89.9-FM, the radio station at Columbia University. The program is introduced by Sam Seliger, librarian/archivist for WKCR, and was originally broadcast live on WKCR in August of 1987. Cage used much of the occasion of this live broadcast at WKCR to work with a small team of audio engineers, Bob Bielecki at the helm, which would ultimately constitute Truckera, a short tape of 101 layered fragments of European operas heard from time to time passing through the percussion section of the small Europeras 1 & 2 orchestra. The host of the program is Brooke Wentz, a Barnard and Columbia alum was also host to the entire fourteen-day festival taking place in the period leading up to Cages 75th birthday, of which this broadcast was a part.

While I was in attendance at the premiere of Cages mammoth work in Frankfurt on Dec. 12, 1987, I missed both the original broadcast of tonights program in August of 1987 and its more recent re-broadcast on Cages birthday this year, Sept. 5, 2023, so this airing this evening via WGXC is as much for me as it is for All Things Cage listeners who were equally unaware. Europeras 1 & 2 was the primary work occupying Cages time in the 1985-1987 window, and it was also the work that I spent the most of my own time on, having begun work with Cage in New York in 1985. It brings back a lot of memories! Cage had assumed a Wagnerian role with this work " his first full-scale opera " handling virtually every aspect of its composition and creation, with a lot of help from Andrew Culver. Europeras 1 & 2 ended up being the subject of my two-volume doctoral dissertation from UCLA, completed in 1992, fully titled John Cages Europeras 1 & 2: The Musical Means of Revolution. The program, which runs in its original three full hours, is airing here at WGXC in three parts, each running roughly one hour: Part I aired last week, on Dec. 30, Part II will be heard tonight, Jan. 6, and the third and final Part III will air next week, on Jan. 13, all heard on All Things Cage at its regularly scheduled times.

Tonights program also includes a then newly-recorded performance of Cages Hymnkus (1986), scored for chamber ensemble, more specifically any solo from or combination of voice, alto flute, flute, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophones, bassoon, trombone, 2 percussionists, accordion, 2 pianos, violin, and cello. The title of the work combines two words: Hymn and Haikus. The word Hymn is reflected in the parts, which are made up of repeated verses. The word Haikus is relevant because each of the verses consists of 17 events. The events are played (or sung) 4, 5, or 6 times, with varying tempi. Cages notation employs fixed time-brackets of 30, 45, and 60. In total there are 14 parts, but no overall score. These parts may be performed as solos, or in any combination. The work is made up of the solos from Cages Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras (1985), each reduced to the same repeated 8-note chromatic range between G2 and C3, an interval of a perfect fifth. The work, provided to the station manager on cassette personally by Cage, was performed by Matthew Kocmieroski and the New Performance Group, to whom Hymnkus is dedicated, an ensemble made up of core members of the Port Costa Players from the San Francisco Bay Area who had moved to Seattle, Washington to teach at Cornish College of the Arts. Members were, in addition to Kocmieroski, Jarrad Powell, Roger Nelson, Thomasa Eckert, Walter Gray, and William McColl; they are joined in this performance by trombonist Stuart Dempster.

We also have a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of this weeks Part II: Cage had also brought a broadcast tape of his recently-finished Essay (1987), short for Henry David Thoreaus Writings through the Essay: On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, which he offers up for playback while the remixing process is underway. As he explains, his

Essay is made up of eighteen mesostics (like an acrostic but having the string of letters down the middle rather than down the edge; a given letter does not occur between it and the preceding letter of the string) on Erik Satie's title Messe des Pauvres. Thoreau said, The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Satie was known as Monsieur le Pauvre. He had no interest in saving money. He preferred something he could use, a handkerchief, a watch, an umbrella, and these he bought not singly but in quantity. All of the words that are used in a single writing through are removed from the source text for a subsequent writing through. Thus, the series of writings through tends towards shorter and shorter texts. The series was continued until the nineteenth which, being incomplete, brought it to an end. It is one part of a collection of materials, some of them musical, most of them literary, called The First Meeting of the Satie Society.Essay was made in two forms, one unstratified, and one stratified. For both forms, readings giving nine seconds to each stanza of all eighteen writings through were superimposed. For the unstratified form the voice pitch was kept constant by compressing or expanding a single writing through to a common chance- determined time length, 16'49". (The time lengths varied from 36" to 20'42".) For the stratified form (14'04"), the different writings through were broadcast by chance operations to points in a two-octave range of which the center was the pitch of the unstratified form. For both forms each reading was given its own stereophonic position. This was accomplished at The Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York directed by Charles Dodge. Programming, which involved the optimization for extreme elongation of Paul Lansky's software for the analysis and synthesis of vocal material, was done by the Technical Director, Kenneth Worthy, and the work was carried out by him, Frances White, and Victor Friedberg. The original voice recording was done at Synesthetics Inc. with the assistance of Paul Zinman.
Essay will be heard at the very start of next weeks All Things Cage, so we hope youll tune back in!
The late Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kenneth Silverman once described his "Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage" (Knopf, 2012) as the hardest book hed ever written. This was because, as he put it, pick up any rock and theres John Cage! Indeed, Cage was not only a world-renowned composer, numbering among his compositions the still notoriously tacet 433, but a ground-breaking poet, a philosopher, a chess master who studied with Marcel Duchamp, a macrobiotic chef, a devotee of Zen Buddhism, a prolific visual artist, and an avid and pioneering mycologist. He was also life partner to the celebrated American choreographer, Merce Cunningham, for nearly half a century, and thus well known in the world of modern dance. Episode 151. EVERGREEN

WKCR's Birthday Broadcast/Opera Mix for and with John Cage (1987), Part II Download Program Podcast
Weekly program featuring conversations between Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust, and Cage experts and enthusiasts from around the world.
01:00:13 1 Jan. 18, 2024
Produced for Wave Farm in the Hudson Valley in New York.
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