All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn talks with Stephen Nachmanovitch
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Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.
Laura Kuhn talks with Stephen Nachmanovitch, an improvisational violinist who works at the intersections of music, dance, theater, and multimedia arts. Born in 1950, Stephen graduated in 1971 from Harvard and in 1975 from the University of California, Santa Cruz where he earned a Ph.D.in the History of Consciousness for his exploration of William Blake. His mentor was the anthropologist and philosopher Gregory Bateson. In the 1970s he was a pioneer in free improvisation on violin, viola, and electric violin. He has taught and lectured widely in the United States and abroad on creativity and the spiritual underpinnings of art, presenting masterclasses and workshops at conservatories and universities. He’s also made numerous appearances on radio and television and at music and theater festivals. He has collaborated with other artists across media, and has developed programs melding art, music, literature, and computer technology.
Stephen has also created computer software including The World Music Menu and Visual Music Tone Painter. He’s also written two books, Free Play (in 1990) and, most recently, The Art of Is (in 2019). He lives with his family in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On tonight’s program we listen to four works created by Stephen: Nay Yama Dodo Tulu (2022), Quintet for Viola and Thrush (2020), Yazo Tando (with Ron Fein; 2016), and Clouds Unfold (2020). Stephen’s music appears on his own bluecliffrecords.com label and is available at Bandcamp and fine audio vendors everywhere.
"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 email@example.com. 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!