Sunday, March 11, 2007

John Cage in Tehran

Know what's cool? Last Thursday night, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra performed Cage's Four6. The Cage community is understandbly all a-twitter. The late number pieces are not my favorite, but how often do you see major American orchestras performing any Cage at all!

The press releases don't mention it, interestingly, but Cage himself performed in Iran once, at the 1972 Shiraz Arts Festival--a festival originally created to celebrate the 2,5000 year anniversary of the founding of Persia. You can read an article about it here. [pdf] The concert was sponsored directly by the Shah himself, and was no doubt undertaken with the support of the U.S. government.

Marshall Berman later wrote, "When a creative spirit like John Cage accepted the support of the Shah of Iran, and performed modernist spectacles a few miles from where political prisoners shrieked and died, the failure of moral imagination was not his alone." That's rather sanctimonious, but he had a bit of a point. It's nice to know that at least for one evening this week, Cage's music was being used for slightly less imperialistic ventures.

This is what I get for not keeping up with my blog reading: everyone in the world has already posted about this. (I really wish I could read that last one, it looks fascinating!)

No comments: