Performance Monday, March 26, 2012 | 7:30 PM

So Percussion

"We Are All Going In Different Directions"—A John Cage Celebration

Zankel Hall
Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall with members of So Percussion in conversation with Ara Guzelimian, Provost and Dean, The Juilliard School.

No one did more to change how we think about music—how we listen to it, make it, perform it—than John Cage. As part of American Mavericks at Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn-based ensemble So Percussion fetes this challenging composer, who was born 100 years ago in Los Angeles, and whose influence is felt today almost everywhere in American music.
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The Program


Credo in US was Cage’s first collaboration with dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham. It was originally a dance drama satirizing middle-class dysfunction and blind patriotism in the midst of World War II. The use of random radio and record samples means that no two performances are exactly the same. 

Imaginary Landscape #1
is credited by many as the first electric/acoustic hybrid piece ever written in America. It is certainly the first piece written for turntables as instruments, predating hip-hop by many decades. Our version of Imaginary Landscape #1 uses updated technology—a quartet becomes a duo, with both turntables and the suspended cymbal condensed to one player using Ableton Live.

Quartet for Percussion, from She is Asleep, is one of the quietest works ever written for percussion. It is orchestrated for 12 tom-toms played with fingers. 

Inlets (Improvisation II)
asks the performers to improvise using gurgling sounds of water in conch shells. It also utilizes the sounds of burning pinecones and a lone blown conch shell. 

0’ 00” (4’ 32” No. 2)
consists of a single instruction: “In a situation provided with maximum amplification (no feedback), perform a disciplined action.”

Duet for Cymbal
is not a piece that Cage actually wrote, but a variation on his piece Cartridge Music that he suggested in the performance notes of the score. The performers make parts by layering transparencies with dots and circles over sheets with irregular shapes.

45’ for a Speaker
is a text that appears in Silence, Cage’s seminal collection of writings and pieces. It is precisely written to be performed in 45 minutes and essentially constitutes a collage of earlier lectures. 

Third Construction is one of Cage’s most often performed works: a densely constructed, astonishingly inventive piece of chamber music that calls on the performers to choose tin cans, pod rattles, cowbells, and a number of other instruments. It is symmetrically structured in 24 sections of 24 measures each, a solution to the vexing problem of how to organize music without harmony, as well as the inspiration behind our own 24 x 24 on this program.;




came out of Sō Percussion’s collaboration with Matmos. It was not a particularly exotic experiment for Matmos, who have conjured music from almost every imaginable sound source. The idea of using amplified cactus comes from Cage’s Child of Tree. As so often happens, improvisation and play yielded a more structured piece.

Use friction use gravity use pizzicato use pulse use pattern use tremolo use rolls use sustain use silence use intuition with caution.

“Bottles” from Ghostbuster Cook: The Origin of the Riddler is part of Dan Deacon’s piece for Sō Percussion that was premiered at the first Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall. Although Dan’s heavy beats and saturating noise don’t bear aesthetic resemblance to most of Cage’s work, the amplified soda bottles that lend this piece its name are heavily influenced by his legacy. Dan is also a huge fan of the Cage-influenced “Fluxus” movement of experimental music and art, gleefully involving the 2011 Ecstatic Music Festival audience in a 25-minute–long text piece, a variation on which—Take a Deep Breath—is included in this program.

24 x 24 is an homage to Cage’s Third Construction, which is built in 24 sections of 24 measures each. We are inspired by Cage’s idea that a piece made of time durations allows room for all kinds of noise. In this case, drones are a central element. 

—Sō Percussion

The National Endowment for the Arts is the lead donor of American Mavericks at Carnegie Hall.

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