John Cage Would Have Been 100 Years Old Today

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today would have been John Cage’s 100th birthday.

All year long, all over the world, musicians, composers, and arts organizations have been celebrating the legacy of John Cage. One of the most influential composers of the 20th century, Cage constantly looked for ways to find and invent new sounds for his compositions. In 1933 or 34 (I foget which), he got his hand on some turntables and used them in a performance by changing the speeds to alter the pitch of the recording. He was 50 years ahead of his time.

Cage came to Buffalo some 20 times between 1960 and 1991 with numerous residencies under the auspices of the Creative Associates, S.E.M. Ensemble, the North American New Music Festival, and Evenings for New Music. In 1991 Cage wrote Europera 5. It premiered on April 18, 1991 at Slee concert Hall at the State University of New York at Buffalo, during the Ninth Annual North American New Music Festival. It was performed by Martha Herr, Gary Burgess, Jan Williams, Tom Kostusiak, Yvar Mikhashoff and me.

On October 12, 2012, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Cage’s birth, the Burchfield Penney will present Europera 5 with some of the original performers including Jan Williams, Martha Herr, Tom Kostusiak and me.

Don Metz, Associate Director, Public Programming, Burchfield Penney Art Center

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Photo credit: Irene Haupt
John Cage, Jan Williams and Yvar Mikhashoff in Buffalo in the 1970s


Don Metz is associate director, public programming at the Burchfield Penney.