A concert is a concert is a concert is a concert is a party. Sometimes.
Saturday afternoon, to inaugurate the local celebrations commemorating John Cage's 75th birthday, the Los Angeles Festival--ever mod, ever with-it, ever searching for new horizons to cloud--presented a Musicircus. Oh, wow.
And what, you have the audacity to ask, is a Musicircus? \o7 Will it irk us?\f7
A Musicircus, oh innocent one, is a far-out, ultra-mod, orgiastic updating and enlarging of the ancient quodlibet. The first major and official Musicircus was held 20 years ago, in the golden age of the flower child, at the ivory-towered University of Illinois. \o7 What a neat idea.\f7
The sober, incipiently informative program magazine for the festival calls the Musicircus "an afternoon of happiness and fun, a three-hour party in honor of--and to share with--one of the great artists of hour time." \o7 Totally rad.\f7
The hyper-hyperbolic festival brochure had promised that the Musicircus and related festivities would attract "some of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, (who) will gather to create the 'Happening of the year.' " \o7 Just the year? Why not the millennium?
\f7 Anyhow, this, more or less--probably more more than less--is what happened: Fletcher Bowron Square--you know, the place by the \o7 Children's\f7 Museum where they hide that hideous and useless Triforium--hosted a musical--well, quasi-musical--free for all. \o7 Well, free for most\f7 .
Speaking of free, admission to the Musicircus didn't cost anything. \o7 The price was right.\f7
The whole sprawling orgy--complete with strolling mimes, human puppets, complimentary punch and cake and personal appearances by the always amiable, slowly aging \o7 enfant-terrible\f7 birthday-boy himself--represented the sort-of ultimate Cage composition. \o7 Awesome\f7 .
The master reportedly wanted it to contain "as many unrelated musics as obtainable and practical in a given time and space." \o7 I Ching was never like this\f7 .
The unrelated musics, all mixing together and canceling each other out in blissful but obviously meaningful cacophony, included little that the fogies and fossils of yore would label classical. \o7 Who cares?
\f7 The wandering and wondering non-minstrel could absorb a lot of other styles, however, in this mighty and messy alfresco \o7 melange\f7 .
"This music," the magisterial Cage has explained, "is not concerned with harmoniousness as generally understood. . . ." \o7 Doo-wah. Doo wah.\f7
"Here we are concerned with the coexistence of dissimilars, and the central points where fusion occurs are many: the ears of the listeners wherever they are." \o7 Slonimsky says Cage's father invented devices that detected submarines.
\f7 The indeterminate dissimilars that coexisted downtown on this balmy Saturday included some solemn performers and ensembles, all pretending to be making music in a vacuum. \o7 Or in a vacuum cleaner.
\f7 A pristine soprano representing The Harmonic Virgins warbled "You Made Me Love You" while members of the CalArts Gadon strummed and plucked Eastern exotica while the Kinnara Drummers banged and banged while Blind Joe Hill demonstrated the virtuosity of his one-person band while Bernardo Feldman explored the electronic future while Jazz Winds blew and blew while a Lapidarist did his specific thing while the Cambridge Singers invoked polite antiquity while Mmes. Huertas and Newton sighed Sweet Blues while kids from the County High School for the Arts waddelled while other kids danced and others tootled while noble North Indians sarodded( while Master DaShiek Woodard tickled real as well as electronic keyboards while Blob and Snakepit synthesized things up . . . . \o7 Doo-dah. Doo-dah.\f7
That was just the beginning. \o7 By George, I think I've got it!\f7
The world's favorite musical mycologist beamed approval from the sidelines and watched his instant admirers decorate an inflatable wall with dedicatory graffiti. Cage himself signed autographs on all proferred surfaces--even a rock. \o7 He's a terrific dude.\f7
It was all very loud\o7 ,\f7 very confusing and--dare one say it?--very silly. Still, a good time was had by some.\o7 Man, it was outta sight!\f7
Man, it was outta hearing.