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John Cage

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January 15, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though cutting-edge composers are characterized as not caring whether anybody listens, the John Cage summit meeting of four noted composers assembled at the International House on Sunday was as voluble as can be. Following a performance of Cage's Four6 , the friendly avant-garde legend Christian Woolf, 78, revealed that one source of the performance's singular sound world was a simple Lapstick (a disembodied electric guitar neck) on which various objects were dragged to create sonic effects.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 5, 2002 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
John Cage was an imaginative, exasperating and undeniable musical force, a presence whose impact is more apparent in retrospect. Most "serious" listeners scorn him as the composer of "4'34" (or "Silent Prayer") in which the musicians just sit without playing, or of the piece where people twisted radio dials to create random sounds. After his study with Arnold Schoenberg and collaboration with choreographer Merce Cunningham, Cage became influenced by Indian sounds, Zen Buddhism, tape loops, and the I Ching.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 9, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The deeper one gets into the John Cage 100th birthday year, the more frequently one must ask what makes a communicative tribute to this most elusive composer of the New York avant-garde. So much of his work doesn't seem like music at all, but conceptual art, with pieces that might consist only of a set of written directions interpreted however the performer wants. (Example: "Perform a disciplined act. ") Thus, at Friday's John Cage: Song Books program at the fidget space (a loft in Northern Liberties)
ENTERTAINMENT
June 9, 1995 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Blips and blops and other weirdly mesmerizing doodles were coming over the headsets at the "It's about Sound" interactive computer in the John Cage exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Blips and blops and then WHAA- KATAAAH!!!! "Drums. It's drums," said Amy Cravetz, who is 8, and began to giggle as Conrad Lawson, who was standing next to her and also wearing a headset, bobbed his head. "Cool," he nodded as three schoolmates crowded in to listen. Children were swarming all over the multimedia Rolywholyover A Circus exhibit, which composer Cage planned before his death in 1992.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 27, 2012 | BY SHAUN BRADY, For the Daily News
THERE WAS UNDENIABLY a comic element to Margaret Leng Tan's performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last month. First, there was Tan's incongruous request for the audience to turn on their cell phones. Then there was the awkward sight of the virtuoso pianist perched, motionless, in front of a toy piano, her knees jutting up over the top of the miniature instrument. This was a performance of John Cage's most famous work, "4'33" " - the groundbreaking composer's so-called "silent piece.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 9, 1995 | By Edward J. Sozanski, INQUIRER ART CRITIC
The citywide John Cage festival set in motion by the exhibition "Rolywholyover A Circus" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art includes a number of events that are only tangentially related to Cage and his ideas about art and music. However, several of these events extend the philosophical reach of the Art Museum show significantly. They should be seen by anyone who wants to understand what Cage was about. One is the William Anastasi retrospective at Moore College of Art and Design.
NEWS
December 3, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The Cage: Beyond Silence festival - under way at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other venues throughout the city since late October - has moved into its second phase of concerts, concentrating on John Cage's 1970, 90-piece Song Books collection. That collection has to do much less with the typical medium of song than with the many open-ended ways Cage released the music he felt was hidden everywhere. You could count on a committed Cage experience from Ne(x)tworks, the New York-based sextet headed by new-music doyenne (and vocalist)
NEWS
August 14, 1992 | By Daniel Webster, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
"Get yourself out of whatever cage you're in," advised John Cage when asked a few years ago about his philosophy. That punning insight summarized Cage's long artistic life in which the outrageous and the obvious were often identical, and the challenge of his words was swathed in softening charm. Cage, who died Wednesday just short of his 80th birthday, was probably as surprised as anyone to have his birthday celebrations cut short. As he had grown older, he had grown more childlike and his smile had widened when he heard his music played, or when he was being asked for opinions, or when he was considered an icon.
NEWS
June 3, 1995 | Inquirer photos by Bonnie Weller
Yesterday's preview of "Rolywholyover: A Circus" turned the Art Museum into a midway of sorts. The multimedia exhibit, a collection of objects chosen by composer John Cage, evokes a circuslike atmosphere. A number of activities go on simultaneously, and the pieces change several times a day. As Cage put it, "if you came back a second time, you wouldn't recognize it. " The exhibit, which includes works by Cage, who died in 1992, and by artists he admired, opens to the public tomorrow and runs through July 30.
NEWS
October 22, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The eager group of young musicians seems poised to begin playing. Expectation is in the air. But no sound or motion is coming from anybody. Is it a joke? Mass catatonia? Four minutes later, there's still no sound, and then . . . . You can guess the rest. It's the greatest hit by maverick musical folk hero John Cage, whose 1952 piece 4'33" calls for four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. It's typical Cage: maddeningly simple performance directions with open-ended results. Even silence, in his world, has infinite varieties.
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ENTERTAINMENT
March 3, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Any artistic cutting edge can come with the sensation of falling off a cliff. The listener is bewildered for a bit, until someone (often the composer) shows how the most forbidding concoctions have precedents in the past. Rarely, though, has the road map to such precedents been established with the concrete as it was in a talk before Bhob Rainey's Axon Ladder Friday at Vox Populi. Was this an advanced calculus class? At the same time such well-known composers as Stephen Hartke and Louis Karchin unveiled their response to the visual stimuli at the Barnes Foundation in a Network for New Music concert, Rainey was at the gallery wrestling with music based on mathematical abstractions of squid neurons so big they were studied in the pre-high-tech era. Some skepticism is warranted - attention-grabbing concepts don't necessarily unleash worthy music.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 23, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
What a difference when chamber music is played with absolutely no extraneous sound. Violinist Isabelle Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov have considerable big-concert-hall careers. For Monday's Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concert at the Kimmel Center, however, they left that part of their musical lives behind and met small-scale works from the Beethoven, Weber, and Schubert repertoires - so much on their own terms (even more than in their prestigious recordings for Harmonia Mundi)
ENTERTAINMENT
January 23, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Sometimes you need to submit to an artistic movement: Shelve as many doubts as possible, set aside questions about enjoyability, and just see what happens. Surely the three-month-long Cage: Beyond Silence festival - held in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Dancing Around the Bride exhibition - was one such experience, and one that left you forever changed. Granted, I felt more relieved than enlightened at Sunday's closing concert featuring John Cage's last piece, Thirteen ; life on the artistic edge is exhausting.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 15, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Though cutting-edge composers are characterized as not caring whether anybody listens, the John Cage summit meeting of four noted composers assembled at the International House on Sunday was as voluble as can be. Following a performance of Cage's Four6 , the friendly avant-garde legend Christian Woolf, 78, revealed that one source of the performance's singular sound world was a simple Lapstick (a disembodied electric guitar neck) on which various objects were dragged to create sonic effects.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 11, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
No two composers have made so much of silence as John Cage and Matthias Pintscher - though separated by decades and arriving at the absence of sound from different philosophical hemispheres. The latest chapter of the Cage: Beyond Silence festival, celebrating the centennial of the composer who institutionalized silence as an expressive entity, was cheek-by-jowl with Curtis 20/21, the Curtis Institute's modern-music group. The Curtis guest conductor was the 41-year-old Pintscher, a frequent visitor here who takes German modernism into ever more subtle terrains.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 4, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The "Cage: Beyond Silence" festival - under way at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other venues throughout the city since late October - has moved into its second phase of concerts, concentrating on John Cage's 1970, 90-piece Song Books collection. That collection has to do much less with the typical medium of song than with the many open-ended ways Cage released the music he felt was hidden everywhere. You could count on a committed Cage experience from Ne(x)tworks, the New York sextet headed by new-music doyenne (and vocalist)
NEWS
December 3, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The Cage: Beyond Silence festival - under way at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other venues throughout the city since late October - has moved into its second phase of concerts, concentrating on John Cage's 1970, 90-piece Song Books collection. That collection has to do much less with the typical medium of song than with the many open-ended ways Cage released the music he felt was hidden everywhere. You could count on a committed Cage experience from Ne(x)tworks, the New York-based sextet headed by new-music doyenne (and vocalist)
ENTERTAINMENT
November 27, 2012 | BY SHAUN BRADY, For the Daily News
THERE WAS UNDENIABLY a comic element to Margaret Leng Tan's performance at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last month. First, there was Tan's incongruous request for the audience to turn on their cell phones. Then there was the awkward sight of the virtuoso pianist perched, motionless, in front of a toy piano, her knees jutting up over the top of the miniature instrument. This was a performance of John Cage's most famous work, "4'33" " - the groundbreaking composer's so-called "silent piece.
NEWS
October 22, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The eager group of young musicians seems poised to begin playing. Expectation is in the air. But no sound or motion is coming from anybody. Is it a joke? Mass catatonia? Four minutes later, there's still no sound, and then . . . . You can guess the rest. It's the greatest hit by maverick musical folk hero John Cage, whose 1952 piece 4'33" calls for four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. It's typical Cage: maddeningly simple performance directions with open-ended results. Even silence, in his world, has infinite varieties.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 9, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The deeper one gets into the John Cage 100th birthday year, the more frequently one must ask what makes a communicative tribute to this most elusive composer of the New York avant-garde. So much of his work doesn't seem like music at all, but conceptual art, with pieces that might consist only of a set of written directions interpreted however the performer wants. (Example: "Perform a disciplined act. ") Thus, at Friday's John Cage: Song Books program at the fidget space (a loft in Northern Liberties)
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