All Things Cage: Laura Kuhn and Stephen Drury Talk about Conducting Cage (Audio)

Jan 07, 2023
Hosted by Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust.

This week Kuhn continues on with the guest and subject of programs for “All Things Cage” for the last couple of weeks, Stephen Drury, a pianist and conductor, long on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, where he directs its resident Callithumpian Consort. Their conversation this week is about Cage and conducting, since across his long career, Cage made special demands upon conductors, beginning with The Seasons in 1947 and ending with his works for orchestra written in time-bracket notation. Stephen talks about his experiences with conducting Cage, as well as the ways in which Cage’s compositional directions that affect conductors also affect the way in which he directs his ensembles. We close this week’s program with Cage’s 1O1, a time-bracket notation work composed in 1988 and premiered in Boston the following year, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for which it was written. The BSO’s conductor at the time was none other than Seiji Ozawa, who, in this case, did not conduct the work, but rather prepared the orchestra for its performance. We listen not to the BSO’s performance from 1989, but to the recording made by the New England Conservatory Philharmonia directed by Drury released on Mode Records in 1994. Not incidentally, Drury was one of the original pianists who performed with the BSO for the premiere performance. This is Mode 41, John Cage Orchestral Works I, which also includes recordings of Cage’s Apartment House 1776 and Ryoanji.