Third Coast Percussion 18+ Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., May 25, 8 p.m. 2012

John Cage spent part of 1934 studying privately with pioneering serialist composer Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles, during which time his mentor suggested that Cage would never be able to write music because he lacked a feeling for harmony. Luckily Cage kept at it for the next six decades—and in the years immediately following that discouraging advice, he wrote works for percussion that rank among his greatest, a resounding rejection of harmony's primary role in composition. His inspirations at the time included the opportunity to write for dance troupes and his job as an assistant to animator Oskar Fischinger, who Cage says told him, "Everything in the world has its own spirit which can be released by setting it into vibration." Cage's Quartet (1935) didn't specify instruments; when he conceived it he had household objects in mind, and the objects he set into vibration included chairs, books, brake drums, and pots and pans. Imaginative Chicago group Third Coast Percussion has contributed to the Cage centennial celebration with a terrific new CD, The Works for Percussion 2 (Mode), which includes vibrant readings of most of Cage's percussion work from between 1935 and '41. They'll perform most of the CD at this release concert—Quartet, Trio, Second Construction, Third Construction—along with Credo in Us, Amores, and Radio Music. For the third movement of Quartet, they'll play a soundboard and harp extracted from an upright piano, using knives, hammers, coins, sandpaper blocks, and other objects; for the first, second, and fourth movements they'll focus on wooden instruments, metal instruments, and drums, respectively. Also on the program is a preview of an ambitious new hybrid piece called Renga: Cage 100, made up of contributions five to seven seconds long by 100 living composers. This evening's version of the work in progress will include material from about half the participants. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15-$20

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