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All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn Talks with Trevor Carlson About Cage, Cunningham, and Food, Part II

Dec 04, 2021: 7pm - 8pm
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All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn Talks with Trevor Carlson About Cage, Cunningham, and Food, Part II Broadcast Image

All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn Talks with Trevor Carlson About Cage, Cunningham, and Food, Part II Broadcast Image. Courtesy the John Cage Trust.

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

Laura Kuhn talks once again with Trevor Carlson, who she first met shortly after he joined the ranks of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation and Company in the late 1990s, first as Company Manager, later as Executive Director, the latter position held until Cunningham’s death in 2009. Along the way they’ve had many adventures, including exploring the world of food as it was lived by both artists through the course of their adult lives. Cage’s adoption of the macrobiotic diet in the early 1980s held fast for them both and has been discussed and emulated by countless colleagues the world over. We listen at the close of tonight’s program to an excerpt from an impromptu performance by So Percussion who were invited to come to dinner and “sing” for their supper – to “play” Merce Cunningham’s loft, a large and unwieldy instrument.

In 2009, during the sixth in a series of signature, site-specific performances at Dia:Beacon by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company titled Beacon Events, the John Cage Trust and Dia:Beacon joined forces to present “Cage in the Kitchen,” wherein Dia:Beacon’s café was transformed into a macrobiotic eatery with a new menu consisting of all natural, local foods following Cage’s dietary guidelines. Cage’s favorite cookie recipe was provided on the broadcast page for last week’s Part I program, so this week we provide one of Cunningham’s favorites – Broccoli Coleslaw – adapted by Kuhn from a recipe found in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, a marvelous digest size cooking magazine for everyday cooks that ceased publication in 2012.

Broccoli Coleslaw (serves 4)

2 T. mayonaise
2 t. red wine vinegar
coarse salt and pepper
2 small shallots, minced
6 ounces of broccoli spears (no florets), peeled and finely chopped (about 2 cups)<

In a medium bowl, combine mayonaise and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Add shallot and broccoli, stir to combine, and serve.


"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!