Cage @ 100

On Tuesday, Washington launches a major John Cage festival — art shows, concerts, symposia, theater, dance — in honor of the composer’s 100th birthday on Wednesday.

For the occasion, I wrote a piece in Sunday’s paper about a composer that some people think is one of the most influential artists of recent history and others view as a charlatan.

The accompanying list of “highlights” missed a lot of the events I’m particularly looking forward to: Irvine Arditti’s performance of the Freeman Etudes on Thursday; Margaret Leng Tan’s piano recital at the Freer on Saturday; Ray Kass’s watercolor workshop on Monday the 10th; or, also on Monday, “Steps,” performed by two dancers from the late lamented Merce Cunningham company.

I didn’t mention Cunningham in my piece because Sarah Kaufman wrote her own piece about Cage and dance. What got lost in the cracks, unfortunately, is the fact that Monday’s performance of “Steps” may represent the first performance under the auspices of the Cunningham Trust since the company closed at the start of this year.

Above: John Cage performs “Water Walk” on the game show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1960. The host gamely forgets about the game so the composer can have more air time.

Anne Midgette came to the Washington Post in 2008, when she consolidated her various cultural interests under the single title of chief classical music critic. She blogs at The Classical Beat.

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