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Los Angeles Festival : CAGE SERIES IS COMPLETE AT EMBASSY

September 14, 1987|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Music Writer

Time stands still at a concert of John Cage's music, and it seemed to do so again at the final event in the Los Angeles Festival's John Cage Celebration on Saturday night in the Embassy Theatre. The clock continued to tick, of course, but the feeling of stasis remained.

"Instant Retrospective" might have been the title of this event, instead of "MUSICIRCUS (Sound Collage)," because many of the 90 live or recorded performances that made up the concert had been part of the six Cage concerts given in the last week.

Where the audience--apparently fewer than 200 perceivers, it seemed--ended and the performers began, was unclear. Because of the apparently anarchic nature of the agenda--the audience was given a detailed breakdown of a three-hour schedule upon entering the comfortable hall--a lot of comings and goings occurred during the event. Onstage participants moved into the hall; offstage performers changed positions; watchers left their seats, wandered about, visited the foyer, returned.

Among the participants, one noted the Toronto-based percussion ensemble, Nexus; poet M. C. Richards (reading her own words); the Repercussion Unit; pianists Grete Sultan, Brian Pezzone, Gaylord Mowrey; trombonist Miles Anderson; singer Joan La Barbara; the Twentieth Century Players from CalArts, conducted by Stephen Mosko; conch-player Nicholas England. Cage himself was there, too, sitting quietly near center stage, reading almost inaudibly into a microphone.

The event began promptly at 8 p.m. In the next two hours, a number of climactic points had been reached, among them a roof-rattling performance of "Third Construction" by Nexus and two separate and pointed readings of "Double Music" by Repercussion Unit.

"The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs," Cage's utterly atypical and haunting setting of James Joyce's text, composed in 1942, was sung handsomely by La Barbara, though she failed to deliver the words clearly.

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