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Miller Theatre Opens 2012-13 Composer Portraits Series with Celebration of John Cage, 9/20

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts opens the 2012-13 season of its Composer Portraits series with a 100th birthday celebration of the influential composer John Cage, starring International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Jessica Aszodi, mezzo-soprano, and Steven Schick, conductor. The event will take place on Thursday, September 20, 2012, at 8:00 PM at the Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway at 116th street). Tickets are $25-30, or $15-$18 for students with valid ID.

Miller Theatre kicks off the 13th season of its heralded Composer Portraits series with a 100th birthday celebration of one of the 20th century’s most profoundly influential composers and thinkers, whose ideas revolutionized art-making across genres. This unique Portrait casts John Cage’s provocative explorations of chance operations and unorthodox sounds in relief by exploring his occasionally explosive correspondence with the iconic French modernist Pierre Boulez. Percussionist and conductor extraordinaire Steven Schick join ICE for a program pairing Boulez’s signature Le marteau sans maître with Cage’s seminal works, revealing surprising connections between these two polarizing explorers of sound.

ARTISTS:
John Cage (1912-1992), composer
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
Jessica Aszodi, mezzo soprano
Steven Schick, conductor

PROGRAM:
Music for___ (1984-1987)
Variations III (1962-1963)
Atlas Eclipticalis (1962)
Radio Music (1956)
1’5 ½” for a string player (1953)
Amores (1943)
The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs (1943)
Pierre Boulez: Le marteau sans maître (1955)

John Cage (1912-1992) was a singularly inventive American composer whose principal contribution to the history of music was his systematic establishment of the principle of indeterminacy: by adapting Zen Buddhist practices to composition and performance, Cage succeeded in bringing both authentic spiritual ideas and a liberating attitude of play to the enterprise of Western art. He developed methods of selecting the components of his pieces by chance, early on through the tossing of coins or dice and later through the use of random number generators on the computer, to stimulate the coin oracle of the I Ching. Thus, Cage’s mature works did not originate in psychology, motive, drama, or literature, but, rather, were just sounds, free of judgments about whether they are musical or not, free of fixed relations, free of memory and taste. His most enduring composition is the radically tacit 4’33” (1952), a work in three movements during which no sounds are intentionally produced.

International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is described by The New York Times as “one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music.” ICE is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 33 leading instrumentalists performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century. Since its founding in 2001, ICE has premiered over 500 compositions, the majority of these new works by emerging composers, in venues ranging from alternate spaces to concert halls around the world. The ensemble received the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award in 2010 for its contributions to the field, and received the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming in 2005 and in 2010. ICE is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through 2013. The ICE musicians also serve as Artists-in-Residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival of Lincoln Center through 2013, curating and performing chamber music programs that juxtapose new and old music. ICE has released acclaimed albums on the Nonesuch, Kairos, Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, New Focus, and New Amsterdam labels, with several forthcoming releases on Mode Records. Recent and upcoming highlights include headline performances at the Lincoln Center Festival, Musica Nova Helsinki, Wien Modern, Acht Brücken Music for Cologne, La Cité de la Musique (Paris), and tours of Japan, Brazil and France. ICE has worked closely with conductors Ludovic Morlot, Matthias Pintscher, John Adams and Susanna Mälkki. With leading support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ICE launched ICElab in early 2011. This new program places teams of ICE musicians in close collaboration with six emerging composers each year to develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration. ICElab projects will be featured in more than one hundred performances from 2011–2014 and documented online through DigitICE, a new online venue, and ICE’s blog. ICE’s commitment to build a diverse, engaged audience for the music of our time has inspired The Listening Room, a new educational initiative for public schools without in-house arts curricula. Using team-based composition and graphic notation, ICE musicians lead students in the creation of new musical works, nurturing collaborative creative skills and building an appreciation for musical experimentation.

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