NEXUS members have been performing in Woodstock New York for the past 20 years to benefit the original arts group founded in 1903 called the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony. This annual concert, sponsored by the Woodstock Chimes Fund is called the Woodstock Beat. Last summer it brought NEXUS, So Percussion and Steve Reich and Musicians to the historic Maverick Hall to present Steve’s classic percussion compositions including a complete performance of Drumming (1971). Maverick Hall was built in 1916 by Hervey White who was one of the original artists of the colony. This hall has been an acoustically excellent venue for concerts every summer since then. One very important one occurred August 29, 1952. This concert featured the music of John Cage and others and was presented by pianist David Tutor. On that auspicious evening, Cage’s seminal work, 4′ 33″ was premiered. It is interesting to note that this work which has profoundly influenced hoards of musicians since has been recorded recently in England by some leading pop stars and has been nominated for the Best Holiday Song of 2010. I think John would have been amused to see this happen. Maverick was a great place to premier this piece since the ambient sounds become the piece. Being in the middle of the Catskill Park with un-insulated walls and an open end, the natural sounds of the environment are abundant during concerts. This would be in contrast to a recording studio which by its very nature is quiet and controlled. Cage was so far ahead of his time, we had to wait nearly 60 years for the pop world to catch up to him! While John Lennon changed the world with “Give Peace a Chance”, Cage was writing music more akin to “Give Chance a Piece”.
Here’s a recent mailing done by the good people of Maverick Concerts which has an interesting blurb on the Cage work. By the way, the Woodstock Beat concert 2011 will be NEXUS and the Canadian Brass which will be Saturday night, July 2nd. Mark your calendar!