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John Cage Trust Becomes a Permanent Resident Organization of Bard College

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - The John Cage Trust (JCT), the organization created to oversee the use of the published and unpublished work of one of the 20th-century's most important composers, writers, and artists, has become a permanent resident organization at Bard College. Named The John Cage Trust at Bard College, the Trust and all of its holdings will now reside on Bard College's Annandale-on-Hudson campus. Dr. Laura Kuhn, the Trust's executive director, will administer the Trust from the College, where she will also be the first John Cage Professor of Performance Arts. "One cannot overstate the importance of John Cage and his work, and its impact on 20th century music, art, and culture. That the John Cage Trust will now reside at Bard College, where scholars, students, faculty, and the general public will have access to his holdings, is an honor to the College. It is an extraordinary asset for all of us at Bard and particularly exciting as it relates to our new Conservatory of Music. We will utilize this invaluable material to develop new and innovative educational and performance programs reflective of Cage's groundbreaking work and extraordinary life," said Bard College President Leon Botstein. "We couldn't be happier with this association, and are deeply grateful to Leon Botstein's visionary welcome," said Laura Kuhn. "Bard College's rigorous, creative academic programs, its integrative performance practices, and its profound interest in and commitment to contemporary culture make it the perfect setting for the John Cage Trust. We look forward with great enthusiasm to joining Bard's ranks, especially now, with the burgeoning growth of the Bard College Conservatory of Music, under the leadership of Robert Martin. We hope to make deep and lasting contributions." About the John Cage Trust When John Cage died, in August of 1992, all of his holdings passed to his longtime friend and collaborator, the dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham. The John Cage Trust was legally formed shortly thereafter, with a board of directors consisting of Cunningham, Anne d'Harnoncourt (director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), David Vaughan (archivist at the Cunningham Dance Foundation), and Laura Kuhn (who had been Cage's assistant since 1986). The primary functions of the JCT are to control, monitor, and administer rights and licenses to Cage's published and unpublished work, and to create and encourage educational experiences through new recordings, performances, workshops, festivals, and more. With the move to Bard, The John Cage Trust at Bard College is now a resident organization at Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., where all of its materials will be housed and maintained. The John Cage Trust at Bard College will provide access to these holdings through courses, workshops, and concerts, and will develop now programs around this extraordinary resource. The Trust will complete its move to Bard's campus this spring. Dr. Laura Kuhn, in addition to operating and maintaining The John Cage Trust at Bard College, will hold the position of John Cage Professor of Performance Arts at Bard and teach courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels. About John Cage John Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912. He studied with Richard Buhlig, Henry Cowell, Adolph Weiss, and Arnold Schoenberg. In 1938 he began working as an accompanist for dance and a teacher at the Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. It was here that he first met the dancer Merce Cunningham, with whom he would have a lifelong working relationship. Together they were responsible for a number of radical innovations in musical and choreographic compositions, such as the use of chance operations and the independence of dance and music. Cage was musical adviser for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company until his death in New York City on August 12, 1992. In the 1940s, Cage moved to New York and joined a group of avant-garde artists, including Cunningham, and painters Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper. During this period, Cage became interested in Eastern religions, particularly Zen, and while his compositions continued his use of carefully structured segments of time, he began to fill them in with materials derived by chance processes (the rolling of dice, the use of the I Ching, and other methods). In perhaps the ultimate statement of this aesthetic, he wrote 4'33', a piece of total silence on the part of the performer into which the random sounds of the world enter. In 1952, at Black Mountain College, he presented a theatrical event considered by many to have been the first "Happening." In 1958, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Emile de Antonio organized a 25-year retrospective concert of his music at Town Hall in New York. Cage was the recipient of many awards and honors, beginning in 1949 with a Guggenheim Fellowship and an award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters for having extended the boundaries of music through his work with percussion orchestra and his invention, in 1940, of the prepared piano. He was awarded membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1978), American Academy of Arts and Letters (1989); named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Legion d'Honneur (1982), laureate of the Kyoto Prize given by the Inamori Foundation (1989); and recipient of an honorary doctorate in performing arts the California Institute of the Arts (1986). Cage was the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University for the academic year. The 1991 Zurich June Festival was devoted to the work of John Cage and James Joyce. Cage is the author of Silence, A Year from Monday, M, Empty Words, and X (all published by the Wesleyan University Press). I-VI (the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures delivered at Harvard in , published by Harvard University Press) includes transcripts of the question-and-answer periods that followed each lecture, and an audiocassette of Cage reading one of the six lectures. Conversations with Cage, a book-length composition of excerpts from interviews by Richard Kostelanetz, was published in 1988 by Limelight Editions. Cage's music is published by the Henmar Press of C. F. Peters Corporation and has been recorded on many labels. Since 1958, many of Cage's scores have been exhibited in galleries and museums. A series of 52 watercolors, the New River Watercolors, executed by Cage at the Miles C. Horton Center at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, was shown at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. in 1990, Cage/Cunningham, a documentary film on the collaboration of Merce Cunningham and John Cage, partly funded by PBS, under the direction of Elliot Caplan, was produced in 1991 by the Cunningham Dance Foundation. # # # (3.5.07)

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This event was last updated on 06-11-2007