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Friday, January 06, 2006

No encore, please!

The world's longest-running concert is underway in Halberstadt, Germany, as the second chord has sounded in a performance of John Cage's "organ2/ASLSP".

The performance is not scheduled to finish until the year 2639!

From the article:

Second chord sounds in world's longest lasting concert
Thu Jan 5, 11:12 AM ET

HALBERSTADT, Germany (AFP) - A new chord was scheduled to sound in the world's slowest and longest lasting concert that is taking a total 639 years to perform.

The abandoned Buchardi church in Halberstadt, eastern Germany, is the venue for a mind-boggling 639-year-long performance of a piece of music by US experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992).

Entitled "organ2/ASLSP" (or "As SLow aS Possible"), the performance began on September 5, 2001 and is scheduled to last until 2639.

The first year and half of the performance was total silence, with the first chord -- G-sharp, B and G-sharp -- not sounding until February 2, 2003.

Then in July 2004, two additional Es, an octave apart, were sounded and are scheduled to be released later this year on May 5.

But at 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Thursday, the first chord was due to progress to a second -- comprising A, C and F-sharp -- and is to be held down over the next few years by weights on an organ being built especially for the project.

Cage originally conceived "ASLSP" in 1985 as a 20-minute work for piano, subsequently transcribing it for organ in 1987.

But organisers of the John Cage Organ Project decided to take the composer at his word and stretch out the performance for 639 years, using Cage's transcription for organ.

The enormous running time was chosen to commemorate the creation of Halberstadt's historic Blockwerk organ in 1361 -- 639 years before the current project started...

Hey it could be worse: project organizers could have chosen to perform Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda Da Vida" instead!

(By the way, composer John Cage did a lot of weird stuff, the music-historian who is my wife has just informed me. His "4'33" was especially laughed about in college, she said: a three-movement piece comprised of four and a half minutes... of dead silence!)