Satie’s Vexations – at Aldeburgh

 

Erik Satie

I’m very excited to be going to Aldeburgh this afternoon to take part in a performance of Satie’s Vexations as part of Musicircus at the Aldeburgh Festival. It is taking place at the Aldeburgh Beach Lookout and The Arthouse at 31 Crag Path, and started this morning at 10am. I say started – because it involves a team of pianists playing Satie’s score 840 times. I last performed it in King’s Place, London, as part of the London Sinfonietta’s ‘Experiment!’ Festival in 2010.

Satie writes: ‘ If one wants to place this piece 840 times in succession, it will be well to prepare oneself in advance, and in the deepest silence, through serious contemplation/meditation.’ Hmm …

Today’s performance includes poetry – and eggs! Come and join us. Peter Dickinson is giving a talk about John Cage at 1pm, and Pierre-Laurent Aimard is performing. My slot begins at 3.30pm. More details below.

PRESS RELEASE

840 eggs will add to the musical eggstravaganza of 840 successive performances of ‘Vexations’ on Aldeburgh beach this Sunday 22nd June.

 

The very first of the 840 eggs was enjoyed by the music critic Michael White

‘Vexations’ is the short piece of piano music which the avant garde composer John Cage performed 840 times in succession.  It is to be played this Sunday 22nd June by 23 pianists over 11.5 hours in the Aldeburgh Beach ArtHouse on the Aldeburgh seafront, as part of An Aldeburgh Musicircus, the largest gathering of musicians ever seen in Aldeburgh, during the Aldeburgh Festival 2014.

John Cage also inspired the idea of 840 eggs each of which will be boiled for exactly 4min 33sec the exact same length of time as his piece of silent music titled 4’33”.  Especially for this occasion the poet Ian McMillan has written the poem ‘The John Cage Egg’ (see below) which will be recited periodically throughout the day.

 

 

The John Cage Egg

Now bring to the boil; listen, listen hard
As the bubbles burst suddenly, steam rises

Making silent shapes in the receptive air,
And the egg itself knocks rhythm, rhythms

Against the unthinking pan. The egg hardens
Into the kind of silence you can eat,

The kind of silence you can bring soldiers to,
The kind of silence you can put in, yes, an egg cup

And tap with a spoon. Resonant silence,
The best kind. Turn the egg-timer, slowly:

Boil the egg for exactly 4 minutes, 33 seconds;
No less, no more. Exact, exacting silence.

Ian Mcmillan

 

 

 

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