Composer John Cage (1912–1992) paid attention to the 99% of sound that was not previously called "music." This even led him to explore what was previously thought of as "silence." Because he challenged existing notions of music in such a fundamental way, his ideas still provoke and inspire.
Cage visited New England Conservatory for a festival of his music in 1991. In 2012, we celebrate his centennial with performances by NEC's musicians here and elsewhere in Boston.
This special noontime performance of one of John Cage's "number pieces," co-sponsored by New England Conservatory and The First Church of Christ, Scientist, features 58 wind musicians from the NEC Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds, under the direction of Charles Peltz. This rare performance of a modernist masterwork takes place outdoors on the Christian Science Plaza, facing the reflecting pool, which is itself one of Boston's modernist treasures, designed by I.M. Pei. Find a map.
Cage's 58 was written in the final year of his life, to be performed in the Landhaushof of Graz, Austria, with the performers positioned in the 58 arches of this courtyard. While Boston's Christian Science Plaza may not have exactly 58 arches, it's probably as close as you will find in Boston to the original specifications and to the spirit of a European town plaza.
The 58 wind players work with parts that contain between 64 and 71 individual notes each, with very little other instructions. Cage scholar Rob Haskins reports that Cage "associated wind bands with an attitude of celebration and joyfulness," and that spirit will inform the players' interpretation of his score.