John Cage may seem like a strange choice for a series of tribute concerts at Juilliard, but those leading the effort say the avant-garde composer is ready for the reverence. He is the subject of the 2012 Focus! Festival at The Juilliard School, because organizer Joel Sachs believes that a tribute to Cage would have been unheard of until now.
Sachs wrote on the Juilliard Journal website, "As the word got out, students in large numbers asked to be part of it." He continued, "Cage would have been pleased. He wanted his ideas to be understood, and he loved to teach open-mindedness to anyone who cared to listen."
Cage was known for composing music that challenged his listeners. Years before the crowd, Cage premiered 4'33" in 1952, a piece that instructed the musicians not to play a single note, infuriating critics and audience members alike. Undeterred by the chilly reception, Cage continued with his "chance" works, becoming an influence on the emerging modern dance movement through his collaboration with choreographer and partner Merce Cunningham.
The schedule for Focus! includes some of Cage's finest and weirdest moments, from the more accessible piece "In a Landscape" (1948) to the open-ended performance of "Theatre Piece" (1960). The program is sure to acquaint audiences with the larger scope of Cage's work, creating new fans of compositions that were previously dismissed for being too "out there" for the average listener. View a slideshow of some memorable Cage moments below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.
Focus! runs through February 3rd, 2012 at the Juilliard Center and Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.
CORRECTION: An earlier version misspelled Juilliard.