Kolumba
Kolumbastraße 4
D-50667 Köln
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26 August, 12 noon to 8 p.m.
John Cage, »Empty Words«
Reading performance by Alvin Curran

According to the instructions, a performance of John Cage’s »Empty Words«, written in the early 1970s, ends at dawn. Then, during the performance of the fourth and last section, all the doors and windows of the venue should be opened – life should not be left outside. The narrow constraints of classical music concerts are exploded: “Making music by reading out loud”, it says in the score. But even language is mistrusted: “Making language saying nothing at all”, is another instruction. In this rarely performed score, Cage carries language to its limits in the region where meaning gradually merges into music. Sentences, syllables or letters from the diaries of the American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) selected on the principles of chance are the starting point for these spiritual exercises in sound, which are brought to life in Kolumba as a performance of about eight hours. Normal entry fees apply.

Alvin Curran (*1938) is one of the leading American composers of environmental and live electronic music and co-founder of Musica Elettronica Viva. Up to 2006 he was Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California.


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08/12 Cage: Empty Words
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KOLUMBA :: Events :: 08/12 Cage: Empty Words

26 August, 12 noon to 8 p.m.
John Cage, »Empty Words«
Reading performance by Alvin Curran

According to the instructions, a performance of John Cage’s »Empty Words«, written in the early 1970s, ends at dawn. Then, during the performance of the fourth and last section, all the doors and windows of the venue should be opened – life should not be left outside. The narrow constraints of classical music concerts are exploded: “Making music by reading out loud”, it says in the score. But even language is mistrusted: “Making language saying nothing at all”, is another instruction. In this rarely performed score, Cage carries language to its limits in the region where meaning gradually merges into music. Sentences, syllables or letters from the diaries of the American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) selected on the principles of chance are the starting point for these spiritual exercises in sound, which are brought to life in Kolumba as a performance of about eight hours. Normal entry fees apply.

Alvin Curran (*1938) is one of the leading American composers of environmental and live electronic music and co-founder of Musica Elettronica Viva. Up to 2006 he was Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California.