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All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn Talks with Dean Rosenthal

May 07, 2022: 7pm - 8pm
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All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn Talks with Dean Rosenthal Broadcast Image

All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn Talks with Dean Rosenthal Broadcast Image. Courtesy The John Cage Trust. © Karin Rosenthal (May 07, 2022)

Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.

Kuhn’s guest today is the amiable composer Dean Rosenthal, a resident of Martha’s Vineyard, where in 2012 he composed his ongoing international performance piece Stones/Water/Time/Breath. This has become a popular piece, and in 2016, participants in 11 cities and 3 countries performed this work as part of the international Make Music Day festival, inaugurating an annual event that is now in its 7th year. Rosenthal describes the work as “experimental music in which participants choose any body of water and using rocks (found in situ or brought for the occasion) perform a set of actions designed to create a musical performance. It was born from an impromptu performance Rosenthal himself enacted that was later written down as a set of performance steps that can be performed by everyone.” As he further explains, “In performance, participants, with or without musical training, are invited to explore and inhabit listening spaces that include sound, silence, and the environment. In solo performances, these spaces are evident; in ensemble performances, community becomes a feature of the expressive activity.”

Kuhn and Rosenthal don’t know each other well, but Cage is a common link. We listen at the close of tonight’s program to John Cage’s Inlets, from 1977, which, like Rosenthal’s Stones/Water/Time/Breath, uses water as an essential sound source.

"All Things Cage" is a weekly program featuring conversations between Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust, and Cage experts and enthusiasts from around the world. If you’d like to propose a guest or a topic for a future program, write directly to Laura at lkuhn@johncage.org. She’d love to hear from you.

The late Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kenneth Silverman once described his Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage (Knopf, 2012) as the hardest book he’d ever written. This was because, as he put it, pick up any rock and there’s John Cage! Indeed, Cage was not only a world-renowned composer, numbering among his compositions the still notoriously tacet 4’33”, but a ground-breaking poet, a philosopher, a chess master who studied with Marcel Duchamp, a macrobiotic chef, a devotee of Zen Buddhism, a prolific visual artist, and an avid and pioneering mycologist. He was also life partner to the celebrated American choreographer, Merce Cunningham, for nearly half a century, and thus well known in the world of modern dance.

No wonder, then, that nearly everyone who encounters the man or his life’s work has something interesting to say about John Cage!

Photo: © Karin Rosenthal

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