Arts Team Review – Boulez Contra Cage


This year marks the centennial of John Cage, seminal figure in electronic  music/soundart/circuitry experimentation. He’s been celebrated at local events like Vancouver New Music Festival: Circuitry Cabaret (check out our interview with Nicolas Collins) and at the 2012 Queer Arts Festival (check out our show on Aug 8th 2012).
The Queer Arts Festival, and now the Western Front, presented a meeting between two of the most influential 20th Century composers, each with very different approaches: John Cage and Pierre Boulez.
John Cage gladhanding Pierre Boulez while Oliver Messiaen cringes with trepidation.

CiTR Music Director and guest Arts Reporter Sarah Cordingly was there at Western Front:

“Talk about interdisciplinary, this one’s got it all. Music, art, theatre, science, history and philosophy all come together in one gorgeous old building.

Boulez contra Cage, created by David Bloom, is a dramatization of the fascinating relationship between two important modernist composers, John Cage (Simon Webb) and Pierre Boulez (David Bloom). The dialogue is adapted from their letters and other writings and is punctuated with illustrated examples in the form of live music. Piano and flute duo, Tiresias (Mark McGregor and Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa), perform the avant garde works of Cage and Boulez with intensity.

Overall, it was a compelling performance that laid out a tense relationship between the two queer composers (as it moved from friendship, through tense philosophical discord, and finally, full-on conflict) as well as their very interesting musical practices and experimental techniques.”

Watch John Cage on television in 1960:

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