The Collegian
Monday, May 16, 2022


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A medley of art performances honor John Cage

A celebration of the artist and composer John Cage, which featured music, dance and theater performances, was held at Camp Concert Hall in the Booker Hall of Music last night.

"It will touch upon John Cage's influences on the visual arts, music, composition, writing, theatre and dance," said Heather Campbell, curator of museum programs. "John Cage had a great influence in many facets of the arts, and this program will be a good representation of these multi-facets."

Cage was one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century and was renowned for his avant-garde art, pioneering the chance music and electronic music movements. He was also a philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist and printmaker, among his other artistic ventures.

The event was a collaborative effort between the university museums and the departments of music, art and art history, theatre and dance. Since the event is composed of various artistic forms, it was coined the "John Cage Celebration," rather than a performance or concert.

The celebration featured music by the "Fundamentals of Music" class taught by Paul Yoon, who is a visiting lecturer in the music department, as well as readings by members of the "Zen and Modernism" class taught by Stephen Addiss, an art professor. Myra Daleng, director of dance, directed a performance by members of her choreography class and Dorothy Holland, associate professor of theatre, directed performances by students in her theatre classes.

There were also musical performances by senior Ari Corson and freshman Walter Beers, as well as Joanne Kong, Paul Hanson, Jennifer Cable and Gene Anderson, all professors at the university.

All the performances explored themes of dissonance and chance composition that greatly influenced Cage's work.

Members of Addiss' "Zen and Modernism" class read Cage's "Lecture on Nothing," with each student stationed in a separate spot of Camp Concert Hall and beginning the reading in a different section, so that their voices overlapped into

something between a medley and sheer cacophony.

Members of Holland's choreography class also experimented with chance, as they sashayed down the aisle, choosing

their movements at random to flow with the music. Beers played Cage's composition "In a Landscape" on a piano, and

the dancers slowly flowed up to the stage, convened for a minute, then flowed back up the aisle and out of the concert hall.

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"My class performed Cage's 'Living Room Music,' which was a really great experience," said senior Dan Letovsky, a Richmond College student. "The dancers were really awesome too."

The creation of the event was inspired by the exhibition "John Cage: Zen Ox-Herding Pictures," which is on view through April 7 in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art and Print Study Center, Campbell said.

The semester-long focus on Cage's art will culminate in a Happening on April 1, an artistic event that Cage and his students established in the 1960s. A Happening abandons notions of staged performance with set durations and instead embraces chance and improvisation.

The departments of music, theatre, dance, art and art history will sponsor the event, which will occur campus-wide and throughout the day. It will feature impromptu dancing, public readings, piano performances, carillon music, toy pianos and other forms of artistic expression occurring at random times, in random locations.

Contact staff writer Maria Ribas at

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