Christopher Shultis, Professor of Composition, Percussion and Music Theory, Emeritus, at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, will deliver the first in a series of three lectures on composer, writer, and musical philosopher John Cage at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in Room 209 of the Eastman School of Music’s main building.
This year is John Cage’s Centennial year, and his life and work is being celebrated throughout America and in Europe in concerts, festivals, and colloquia. Eastman’s Cage Centennial Lecture Series focuses on aspects of the scholarly reception of Cage—how his music and words have enriched and changed thinking and understanding of aesthetics in general and music in particular.
While Cage is primarily remembered as an avant-garde composer whose works produced as much controversy as praise, his writings–eventually collected in four books–continue to have far-reaching influences on all the arts, especially minimalism, the time arts, dance, poetry, and critical writing. Cage was the first composer to use chance operations and other forms of indeterminacy to structure both his music and writings, this stemming from his deep and serious interest in Buddhism and Taoism. Later in his life, he found sustenance in the writings of Thoreau as an important supplement to Eastern thought. A charismatic personality, whose wisdom and humanity impressed all who encountered him, Cage continued to work out new conceptions of musical reception and experience that have challenged composers, performers, and listeners, right up to his death in 1992.
Shultis, who opens the Cage Lecture Series with a discussion of “The Dialectics of Experimentalism,” is a composer, author, and scholar. He is the recipient of two Fulbright Awards, an ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards, and numerous other honors; has written, published, and lectured widely; and has enjoyed a career as conductor and solo, ensemble, and orchestral musician.
The other two lectures will be delivered in spring 2013. Dora Hanninen, Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Theory and Composition division in the School of Music at the University of Maryland at College Park, will deliver a lecture titled “Asking Questions,” on March 28. Rob Haskins, Associate Professor of Musicology and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Music at the University of New Hampshire, will speak on “John Cage and Zen: What Did He Know, When Did He Know It, How We Find Out, and Why We Should Care,” on April 18. Both Haskins and Hanninen wrote their PhD dissertations at the Eastman School.
The Cage Lecture Series is supported by the Composition, Musicology, and Music Theory Departments of the Eastman School with additional help from the Eastman administration. It is open the general public.
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