December 31, 2017

Germany 2017 Post 9

By now mrguy had seen a fair number of old dead white guy paintings and I had to throw him a bone. I had done some research before we left and found that there was a John Cage piece located in the town, also. It was pretty mind-blowing.

Everything about this was a bit of an adventure. To get to the old church where the piece is presented, you drive into a courtyard off the street. We knocked at the door of the rectory. A woman answered the door, grabbed her keys (cartoonishly large for a very old lock), put on her coat and off we went. The church is very old, drafty, tidy and has a dirt and gravel floor. In the middle sits the specially built organ, whose pedal is held down by sand bags in order to produce the sustained pitch required by the world's longest presentation of John Cage's composition, As Slow As Possible, which Cage wrote without indicating the intended length of performance.

People typically complete a performance in under or over an hour, but after contemplating how long the piece could be played with different instruments, a group of people decided to set it up in Halberstadt's  639-year-old cathedral and figure out how to have an organ play the piece so it lasts 639 years. The piece opened with a 16-month rest. The next note change will be in 2020. You can sponsor a klangjahre (year of sound) and dedicate it to someone. They sponsor all sorts of John Cage events in Halberstadt, as well.

Here is the organ:

Next, Dessau

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