DANIEL ZEA (Colombia / Geneva): LAS CIUDADES INVISIBLES
This piece is originally written for Voix Nouvelles 2008, Fontation Royaumont. The piece was originally written for mixed voices and cello. Song Circus is developing a new version of the piece together with the composer. Duration: 8-10 minutes. Read more: here
KARIN REHNQVIST: DAVIDS NIMM
JAAP BLONK: FRICTIONAL
Song Circus collaborated with Jaap Blonk in 2009, and developed a verson of one of his signature pieces Frictional.
JOHN CAGE: FIVE & FOUR 6
John Cage’s (1912-1992) “number pieces”, fortyeight in all, belong to the final six years of his life. They are so called because their titles, plus the actual construction of each composition, are based on numbers. They were created with the aid of software designed by Andrew Culver who had worked with Cage on many occasions previously.
FOUR6 (1992) for any way of producing sounds (vocalization, singing, playing of an instrument or instruments, electronics, etc.) was composed for Pauline Oliveros to celebrate her sixtieth birthday and for Joan La Barbara, William Winant and Leonard Stein. It was premiered on July 23, 1992 at Central Park Summerstage in New York City by John Cage, Joan LaBarbara, William Winant and Leonard Stein. It was also used for the dances Tune in/Spin Out (1996) and Rondo (1996) by Merce Cunningham.
The performer choice alongside anarchic harmony – make the number pieces a metaphor for Cage’s ideal society – freedom within agreed limits, activities of all individuals “interpenetrating but not obstructing” as he often said, and these leading to a general absence of striving or competition and thus centralised power. Unlike political composers such as Hans Eisler, Cornelius Cardew or Ewan MacColl, Cage embodied his political visions and beliefs in the very construction and realisation of the music rather than in propagandist texts.
CHRISTIAN WOLFF: METAL & BREATH AND BURDOCKS
Written for metal percussion, voice, and/or wind instruments.
Alongside John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Earle Brown, composer Christian Wolff emerged in the 1950s on the New York experimental music scene and became a prominent champion of the aesthetics of musical indeterminism. His works, which became increasingly explicit in their political content as his career progressed, stress choice, artistic cooperation and interdependence, and an accommodating attitude toward the potential relationships between music, sound, and silence.
“Burdocks is for one or more groupings of players. It’s a collection of different distinctive, compositional ideas in ten parts. The ten parts include specific notations on staves, notations indicating only durations, often depending on the other sounds a player hears; and various verbal directions both explicit and suggestive. Various numbers of performers (no upward limit) can play, using any means of making sounds. Any number ot the ten parts can be played simultaneously or overlapped. I had been affected by hearing a recording of Ba-Benzele Pygmy music, quasi-improvised, polyphonically, by a whole community.” – Christian Wolff. Wolff was also inspired by Cardew and the Scratch Orchestra while creating this composition.
CORNELIUS CARDEW: THE GREAT LEARNING & SCHOOLTIME COMPOSITIONS
Cornelius Cardew’s 1970 masterpiece “The Great Learning” is a work in seven parts or “Paragraphs” based on translations of Confucius by Ezra Pound and is composed for trained and untrained musicians. The piece instigated the formation of the experimental musical ensemble The Scratch Orchestra, who also gave “The Great Learning” its premiere. Now, four decades after its completion, Cardew’s obsessively constructed 5+ hour composition has become an often recalled and imitated masterpiece of counter-culture avant-garde. The influential piece, one of the earliest pieces to be called “minimalist” by composer/critic Michael Nyman, conjures at once Ligeti’s clouds of sound, Webern’s pointillism, Reich’s phasing cycles, and Cage’s conceptual provocations.
“Each of the Schooltime Compositions in the opera book is a matrix to draw out an interpreters feelings about certain topics or materials. These pieces plus their interpreters are the characters in the opera. They undergo no dramatic developments in the book; in performance they may. The pieces plus their interpreters will be the same in both Dayshcool and Nightschool. The different matrices grew around such things as words, melody, vocal sounds, triangles, pleasure, noise, working-to-rule, will and desire, keyboard. My plan is based on the translation of the word ‘opera’ into ‘many people working’” – Cornelius Cardew
Song Circus has been performing open form music since the ensemble was established in winter / spring 2009. In spring 2010 Runesdatter established the musical conferance and triennale Sound of a Cage, focusing on the heritage from John Cage and his fellows. Sound of a Cage Triennial 2016 was dedicated to Sound Poetry and Dada. Next edition Sound of a Cage is Autumn 2019.