About the John Cage TrustClick here for Contact Information
The John Cage Trust was established in 1993 as a not-for-profit institution whose mission is to gather together, organize, preserve, disseminate, and generally further the work of the late American composer, John Cage. Its founding trustees were Merce Cunningham, Artistic Director of the Cunningham Dance Company, Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum, and David Vaughan, Archivist of the Cunningham Dance Foundation, all long-time Cage friends and associates. Laura Kuhn, who from 1986 to 1992 worked directly with John Cage, serves as both a founding trustee and ongoing Executive Director. In 2008, Anne d'Harnoncourt was replaced by Margarete Roeder, long-time gallerist to both Cage and Cunningham; in 2009, Merce Cunningham was replaced by Melissa Harris, editor-in-chief of Aperture.
The John Cage Trust functions as both a business concern and an archive and repository for Cage's work. In the latter capacity, it maintains sizeable collections of music, text, and visual art manuscripts. It also houses extensive audio, video, and print libraries, which are continually expanding, as well as a substantial permanent collection of visual art works by John Cage, which are made available for exhibitions worldwide. The Trust is open year-round by appointment to visitors to assist ongoing work involving, in diverse ways, the legacy of John Cage. As Executive Director, Kuhn travels extensively, lecturing on topics relating to Cage's life and work and conducting performance workshops. In 1998, simultaneous with a performance of the Cage/Cunningham collaboration, Ocean, and the premiere installation of Cage's Roaratorio at the Belfast Festival at Queen's, she was even called upon to cook a post-performance macrobiotic meal for some 80 people in its theater cafe! That same year, she delivered a series of lectures at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where Cage's work, perhaps needless to say, is very little known.
The John Cage Trust also works closely with others in the promotion and placement of Cage's work. In 1993, after an extensive inventory was made and a catalog prepared, the John Cage Music Manuscript Collection, numbering some 28,000 pages, was acquired by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The John Cage Trust works closely with Cage's long-time publisher, C.F. Peters, in promoting new performances and recordings and providing licensing and rights. It also works closely with the Margarete Roeder Gallery in New York and Crown Point Press in San Francisco in the placement of Cage's visual art works in museums and private collections around the world. And, of course, it works intimately with the Cunningham Dance Foundation to assist its continued use of live music for dance, a trademark tradition initiated by Cage and Cunningham in 1953 with the formation of the Cunningham Dance Company. Upon Cunningham's death in 2009, Kuhn was appointed one of four founding board members of the Merce Cunningham Trust.
In 1999, the organization embarked on a number of progressive, proactive projects designed to contribute to the continuing relevance of Cage's work. A particularly interesting example, from 2002, involved the sampling of prepared piano sounds that were subsequently released by Big Fish Audio in a format suitable for MIDI systems. This project, initiated with Cage's landmark composition for the instrument, Sonatas & Interludes (1946-48), means to extend the life of both the prepared piano itself and Cage's significant body of works written for the instrument. In 2000, the John Cage Trust co-produced (with Double M Arts & Events) a theatrical realization of Cage's whimsical 1982 radio play, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet, utilizing a sound score constructed from materials in its archives by the New York composer, Mikel Rouse. This work, which Kuhn directed, was seen in venues around the world, including Edinburgh, Berlin, Dublin, Perth, Australia, and California, at both the U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Los Angeles campuses. In 2007, the John Cage Trust also produced a theatrical realization, again under Kuhn's direction, of Cage's Lecture on the Weather, seen live at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College to commemorate the residential place of the John Cage Trust, and, in 2008, at the Chelsea Art Museum, co-sponsored by the Electronic Music Foundation. An installation version of the Bard College performances was also included in The Anarchy of Silence, a significant art exhibition initiated by the Museu d'Art Contemporani in Barcelona (2009).
As a natural by-product of its on-going archival restoration endeavors, involving the digital transfer of works in various media, the first decade of the new millennium saw a number of co-produced audio releases by the John Cage Trust with Mode Records, of Cage's own text readings. The first, John Cage Performs Cage: The Text Pieces I (The Artist Pieces), features a lengthy, little-known work, Series re Morris Graves, in which Cage recounts in both words and song his formative experiences while living in Seattle, Washington. Two other works are included: Art is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else and What You Say, both utilizing Cage's innovative "mesostic" poetry form and based on the words of his long-time friend and associate, Jasper Johns. The John Cage Trust also works closely with publishers who have a long-standing commitment to Cage publications, such as Wesleyan University Press, who in the past few years has released Cage's Anarchy, as well as the paperback edition of his important six-part lecture as holder of the Charles E. Norton Chair in Poetry at Harvard University, I-VI. In 2010, the John Cage Trust began its annual publication of the John Cage Book of Days, an intimate daily calendar filled with important Cage dates and pithy quotations, and in 2011, Wesleyan University Press will publish the John Cage Correspondence Collection, edited by Kuhn and the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Ken Silverman. Silverman's Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage, fully supported by the John Cage Trust, will be available later this year from Knopf.
On a more traditional side, in 2000, the John Cage Trust initiated work with Munich's Schirmer Mosel Verlag on the "John Cage Catalogue Raisonné,' which, with luck, will be available in time for John Cage's centennial year, 2012. And, belatedly but worth the wait, johncage.org will launch this year, building on the work of Andre Chaudron, whose johncage.info has served Cage enthusiasts for well over a decade. In addition to a fully integrated and searchable database of the holdings of the John Cage Trust, the site will feature many additional components, including "The John Cage Folksonomy" (already up and running) – a roster of some 6,000 anecdotally annotated Cage friends & acquaintances, to which the public is invited to contribute.
In 2007, the John Cage Trust went into residential placement at Bard College, where Kuhn serves as the first John Cage Professor of Performance Arts. That same year, two commemorative concerts were given: the afore-mentioned Lecture on the Weather, with an all-star cast that included Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, John Ashbery, John Ralston Saul, and others, and "Nexus Live!", a full evening of percussion works given by the celebrated ensemble. In 2009 the first John Cage Trust sponsored symposium was given with "John Cage at Bard College," with participation from Cage enthusiasts resident at Bard College.
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John Cage Trust at Bard College
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