John Cage: On & Off the Air!

by Editorial Staff

Celebrate John Cage’s Centennial Year
Saturday, November 17 at 8 pm
at Bard’s Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater

John Cage’s interest in radio as both a medium of transmission and a musical instrument was lifelong, beginning in childhood with original broadcasts created on behalf of his Boy Scouts of America troop and culminating, the year before his death, with his Europera 5 (1991), one of three mixed-​​media works created for the operatic stage. John Cage: On & Off the Air! celebrates this engagement with an ever-​​changing program of works wrapped around a newly staged revival of Cage’s peripatetic The City Wears a Slouch Hat (CBS Radio, 1942). Based on a play by Kenneth Patchen, it features a newly commissioned film of light and shadows by the New York composer Mikel Rouse and performed by the celebrated Canadian-​​based percussion ensemble NEXUS. The film for The City Wears a Slouch Hat will incorporate the use of shadows to simulate characters of a live performance. In this way, the “shadow film” will mirror the live action appearing on stage, as well as becoming a “portable set.”

John Cage: On & Off the Air! celebrates Cage’s centennial year under the auspices of the John Cage Trust. Its theme spotlights Cage’s ever-​​prescient work with technology; its design extends Cage’s devotion to multiplicity, creativity, and responsive living.


The evening program features one of Cage’s most notorious compositions, 4’33″, influenced by Robert Rauschenberg’s all-​​black and all-​​white paintings. The piece, in which the instrument (in this case, a radio) is not played, but ambient sounds provide the “music,” will be performed by George Quasha. Also on the program is Credo in US. Originally used as music for the eponymous choreographed piece by Merce Cunninghman and Jean Erdman, Credo in US is the first instance of Cage’s use of radios or sound recordings as instruments. The performance will feature NEXUS, “one of the great percussion groups in the world” (American Record Guide), percussionist Amy Garapic, and pianist Frank Corliss.

John Cage and Merce Cunningham

John Cage with Merce Cunningham

Saturday, November 17 at 8 pm
The Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
Tickets $15, 25, 35, 45

for more information or to purchase tickets online: fishercenter​.bard​.edu/

 The John Cage Trust at Bard College was established in 1993 as a not-​​for-​​profit institution whose mission is to gather together, organize, preserve, disseminate, and generally further the work of the late American composer John Cage. Its founding trustees were Merce Cunningham, artistic director of the Cunningham Dance Company; Anne d’Harnoncourt, director of the Philadelphia Museum; and David Vaughan, archivist of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, all long time Cage friends and associates. Laura Kuhn, who from 1986 to 1992 worked directly with John Cage, serves as both a founding trustee and ongoing executive director.


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