Performing Indeterminacy: An International Conference

On 30 June–2 July 2017 the project’s conference, Performing Indeterminacy, took place at the School of Music, University of Leeds. Bringing together nearly 100 international delegates, the conference addressed the performance of indeterminate and experimental music as its central theme, and was intended as a forum for the exchange of perspectives from musicologists (in the broadest sense), performers, composers, and a wider audience. We were particularly delighted to welcome our invited speakers, Catherine Laws, Benjamin Piekut and Christian Wolff, whose rich and stimulating contributions shed light on indeterminacy from a variety of angles.

With performance as its primary focus, the programme included an evening of music composed and performed by Bent Duo, James Saunders, and Michael Francis Duch (watch the livestream video here); an illustrated talk about John Cage’s Lecture on Commitment (1961) by Laura Kuhn of the John Cage Trust; and an 11-hour performance of Cage’s Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) (1987) by Diane Luchese at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds City Centre. Other highlights included an installation and screening of Cage’s One11 and103 (1992) curated by Sam Belinfante at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, an installation of “As Sure as Time…” (2016) by Sophie Stone, and a performance of Cartographies of Sheet Metal (2017) for multiple bowed-cymbal players by Scott Mc Laughlin. The full conference programme can be accessed on the conference website. An edited volume of essays is planned from the event.

Finally, a major milestone in the project’s activities was a concert of John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957–58) and the world premiere of Christian Wolff’s Resistance, performedby Apartment House to a packed-out Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall. The concert was reviewed by Oliver Thurley for the journal, Tempo. It was also livestreamed, and the video can be accessed here. A double CD recording of the concert will be released later this year on Huddersfield Contemporary Records. Apartment House performed the same programme later in the week at St. John at Hackney in London, and was reviewed by Ben Harper here.

This new performance is in all ways a revelation and an achievement of the highest order. The musicians in the Apartment House ensemble take their work very seriously, and the sounds they produce strike me as completely consistent with the the score’s many freedoms. From now on, when I teach this piece, I’ll use this recording and am looking forward to studying it more thoroughly.

- Rob Haskins, American Record Guide (August 2018)

Resistance commission by Apartment House funded by Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and Hinrichsen Foundation

For further information please visit our conference website.