The storied inventor-philosopher, John Cage, lived a life of protean productivity and continuously evolving perspectives. To date, his work has resisted attempts to come to a clear, let alone definitive, view of what he did, how he did it, or – famously – what it all meant. Indeed, his work offers an occasion to consider whether meaning can ever be fixed or definitive. And so, there have grown up around this American Master’s work many myths: Indifference is preferred to intention. Discipline is subordinate to whimsy. Wacky behavior trumps methodical preparation. Not true, none of these.
Though the Festival makes no claims regarding either completeness or definitive characterization, its set of ILLUMINATIONs present a variety of scholarly and personal perspectives on Cage’s ways of working and intentions. When creating a musical structure, what considerations were in play? In his engagement with visual art, how did the evolving boundary conditions that he set as he worked influence the aesthetic outcome? When he set out to “read through” a valued text such as Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, how did he proceed in fashioning one of his signature mesostic texts and the geometries they produced on the page? How did those who worked closely with him experience him as an individual? And, perhaps most importantly, when Cage was beginning to explore a new medium or a new collaborative circumstance, how did relationships and resources evolve under his interactive guidance? – Roger Reynolds
ILLUMINATIONs 1, Panel: “John Cage and His Legacy”, with Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust; Brian Brandt, proprietor of Mode Records; and Don Gillespie, his editor at publisher C.F. Peters Corporation, moderated by Roger Reynolds
ILLUMINATIONs 2, Lecture: “Anarchic Harmony: John Cage’s Paradoxical Wager?” by Joan Retallack, author of MUSICAGE, CAGE MUSES ON WORDS. ART. MUSIC: John Cage in Conversation with Joan Retallack
ILLUMINATIONs 3, Lecture: "Organic Structure in John Cage’s Early Percussion Music" by Thomas DeLio, author of the book The Amores of John Cage
ILLUMINATIONs 4, Lecture: "Choice, Chance, and Circumstance in John Cage's Watercolors" by Ray Kass, author of THE SIGHT OF SILENCE: John Cage’s Complete Watercolors
ILLUMINATIONs 6, Lecture: “SHARED FIELDS OF CREATIVE IDEAS in the Cunningham Dance Co. milieu” by Gordon Mumma, composer and longtime musician with the Cunningham Company. [Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 3:30 PM]
ILLUMINATIONs 7, Panel: A summary of the week’s events, the subject of Cage’s legacy, contemporary music in Washington, DC, with Gordon Mumma and Roger Reynolds, with Katherine Markoski moderating. Q & A