John Cage piece on radio this evening

A bit off topic, but this is a rare opportunity: John Cage’s 4’33”, four minutes and 33 seconds of silence (1952, ‘for large orchestra’), is being broadcast on Radio 3 some time after 20.35 Central European Time (just to quote the time zone I’m in myself – actually at the end of the concert – see programme). The Guardian assembled an impromptu orchestra and has put its own version online. Having heard the large amount of ambient noise there, I will be interested to hear the ‘official’ version, and sorry I can’t see the video being shown on the BBC of the orchestra recording the work. The Guardian apologizes:

bq. Obviously the accoustics in our London office are inferior to those at the Barbican, where tonight’s official performance takes place. None of us is a professional musician (though the deputy news editor was in a band once that went on tour with Radiohead), and nor did we have time to do much practice.

bq. Apologies also for the fact that the recording seems only to be four minutes long. We were a bit nervous and may have rushed through the piece somewhat.

Here’s the Radio 3 home site, where you can click on the link to listen (how do you tell if you’ve forgotten to click?)

LATER NOTE: I did hear the piece (so to speak). Apparently there are three movements, the length of each decided by the conductor. The noise was very different from that inthe Guardian performance: there was an outburst of coughing, which may have come at the end of a movement but there’s no way of knowing, and some more coughing at the end.

4 thoughts on “John Cage piece on radio this evening

  1. I was lucky enough to see/hear John Cage in concert the October before his death, and he performed an abbreviated version as an encore, believe it or not, to the scheduled pieces. It was incredible. Nothing as memorable as watching a wiry old man standing in the center of not-silence for a precise amount of time. You’re right, the ambient noise is everything.

  2. So there I was, dear reader, saying the nicest things about Margaret Marks. And now I discover, to my dismay, just the vaguest trace of irreverence in her posts (1/2) re John Cage’s 4’33”, implying that she secretly possesses seven…

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