(editor's pick)Sarah Cahill
Sunday, October 14, 2012 2 PM - 3:30 PM
Cost: $15 Non-Members; $13 Members; $5 Students/Military; Children 12 and Under are Free
Category: Community Event, Culture, Concert / Live Music
Contact: Rebecca Grandstrand 701.777.4195
Contact Dept: North Dakota Museum of Art
North Dakota Museum of Art
261 Centennial Dr.
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Pianist Sarah Cahill will perform in honor of John Cage’s 100th Birthday at the North Dakota Museum of Art, October 14, 2012
This year classical music audiences are celebrating John Cage on his 100th birthday. North Dakota joins the party via Sarah Cahill, the formidable pianist from California who will return on Sunday, October 14, to perform in the Museum Concert Series. As the unchallenged father figure of American experimental music, Mr. Cage wields an influence that extends far beyond sound alone. The concert will surprise those expecting to be bored for Sarah Cahill’s John Cage wore a coat of many colors.
Cahill is known in North Dakota and across the United States for her musical brilliance and her warm connections with her audiences. Going against common perceptions of Cage’s music, there will be no long silences and no prepared pianos where the sound is altered by placing objects (preparations such a bolts, fork tines, and other whatnots) between or on the strings or on the hammers and dampers.
Composer, artist, and pioneer, this program celebrates John Cage’s life and music and his friendship with two prominent 20th century composers, Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison.
According to Cahill, “My California program explores the work of these three composers: John Cage, Henry Cowell, and Lou Harrison. Cowell was the teacher of the other two and had a tremendous influence on them. Their interest in non-Western music, in melody and simple harmonies, in writing music both appealing and adventurous, all comes from Henry Cowell.” Cahill enchanted the audience when she played Cowell’s composition The Banshee in the Museum’s 2011 series, and the playing was all inside on the strings.
The musical revolutions these three composers forged together are being felt today in many ways. The “melting pot” of current American music, resonating from Asia, Africa, and non-European traditions, comes directly from Cowell, Cage, and Lou Harrison. Audiences who have felt alienated from some contemporary American music because of its dissonance and complexity can find Lou Harrison’s music especially appealing in its songful directness. Each of these three composers took delight in conveying their ideas simply and elegantly. As John Cage said, his teacher Henry Cowell was “the open sesame for new music in America.”
Cahill continues, “John Cage is as controversial now as he was during his lifetime. There is still plenty of argument about whether he was really a composer or more of a musical philosopher, introducing ideas like four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence in a concert setting to listen to the world around you as music. In fact, he composed some astonishingly beautiful music, for example In a Landscape, which Cahill will play, along with Ophelia, a glimpse into Cage’s depression and anxiety, which led him to Zen Buddhism.
The influence of Henry Cowell on 20th-century music has been profound. When he was a teenager in Menlo Park, California, he started experimenting at the piano, playing the keys with his fists and his forearms and strumming and plucking inside on the strings. He didn’t have money for piano lessons, so he invented his own approach to the piano, combining these techniques with the Irish songs and dances he loved as a child. Cowell was a pioneer in the study of “world music,” who dedicated himself to Chinese opera and Indian classical music as a young man. He later taught the first world music classes at the New School in New York.
In 1936, Cowell was imprisoned in San Quentin on a “morals” charge— basically for having a homosexual encounter—and spent the next four years behind bars. Cahill’s program at NDMOA includes several of the pieces Cowell wrote at San Quentin, where, remarkably, he kept his spirits up enough to compose, teach music classes, and start both an orchestra and a band. These pieces include Rhythmicana, extraordinary for its rhythmic experimentation, and Hilarious Curtain Opener, composed for Jean Cocteau’s Marriage of the Eiffel Tower.
Lou Harrison was born in 1917 and lived for most of his adult life near Santa Cruz, California. He is best known for his lyrical melodies and appealing, seemingly simple style of composition. He devoted much of his life to working with Indonesian gamelan, which he evokes in his Summerfield Set. His Reel pays tribute to the chord clusters invented by his teacher, Henry Cowell. His Dance for Lisa Karon was just discovered earlier this year in a pile of sheet music in San Francisco—it had not been seen since its debut in 1939, and Sarah Cahill was fortunate to have been chosen for its 21st-century debut.
Parking InformationUnless special parking arrangements have been stated above, off-campus guests for this event may use the pay-as-you-go option in the Parking Ramp (corner of 2nd Ave N and Columbia Road), the Visitor Lot (off Centennial Drive), or a Parking Meter. Parking in any other parking lot on-campus requires a parking pass which can be purchased directly through UND Parking and Transportation Services, 3925 Campus Rd Stop 9030 (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday).
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