The John Cage Bootlegs
NPR Tiny Desk Concert
With “Cage 100: The Bootleg Series,” So Percussion found a way to bypass the problem with a composite release that celebrates the composer’s centennial with both craftsmanlike specificity and an openness to chance.
No leading ensemble better embodies the fearless, trailblazing spirit of John Cage than So Percussion. In honor of Cage’s centenary year, So Percussion toured a program entitled We Are All Going in Different Directions to Cambridge, Toronto, and Austin, culminating in an appearance at Zankel Hall as part of the American Mavericks series. Along with classic Cage scores like Credo in Us, Imaginary Landscape #1 with turntables, and Third Construction, We Are All Going in Different Directions features original compositions by the group, plus contributions by electronic artists Martin Schmidt of Matmos, Cenk Ergun, and Dan Deacon. Schmidt, Ergun, and violist Beth Meyers (janus trio and QQQ) performed with the quartet.
Given Cage’s use of indeterminacy in this program, every concert was different. Fittingly, So Percussion documented these tour performances with a specially-packaged, limited-edition album, Cage 100: The Bootleg Series. Only 300* copies were made. Each one includes a unique, handmade cover; a blank LP (in a nod to Cage’s 4:33); a I Ching-inspired 64-minute CD sampler, with tracks chosen by chance operations; and a download card giving access to complete shows.
So Percussion consists of Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting. Speaking for the group, Sliwinski said, “John Cage’s artistic legacy is formidable. His innovations and accomplishments are truly staggering: He wrote some the first electric/acoustic hybrid music, the first significant body of percussion music, the first music for turntables, invented the prepared piano, and had a huge impact in the fields of dance, visual art, theater, and critical theory.”
Somehow Cage’s prolific output seems not to stifle, but rather to spur creativity in others. He certainly deserves surveys, tributes, and concert portraits during the centenary of his birth. But So Percussion wanted to do him honor by allowing his work and spirit to infuse our own.
“We have chosen some of our favorite Cage pieces to present on this celebration concert. We believe that although they are historical in fact, each is stunningly present and even prophetic. The pieces are woven in with new music: some by our close friends, and some of our own creation.