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06 November 2017

All Over But the Shouting ("Music for Merce," Walker Art Center, 2017)

Quinta, Ikue Mori, Peter Selway, Christian Wolff, David Behrman, John King,
Joan La Barbara, Zeena Parkins, Fast Forward, George Lewis
The marvelous interdisciplinary exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2/8 - 7/30, 2017/Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2/11 - 4/30, 2017) has come to an end.  This landmark show, the visionary work of Fionn Meade and Philip Bither (with Joan Rothfuss and Mary Coyne), focused on Cunningham's dynamic artistic collaborations with a great many people, including John Cage,Trisha Brown, Jasper Johns, Robert Morris, David Tudor, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and countless others.

One of the high points was "Music for Merce: A Two-Night Celebration," a pair of concerts curated by longtime Cunningham musician, John King.  These were heard first at the Walker (McGuire Theater, 2/23 and 2/24), then repeated at Chicago's MCA (2/25 and 2/26), each evening consisting of a separate set of solo, duo, and ensemble works, each concluding with a collectively made realtime composition, billed simply as "Event."  Compositions were by the performers themselves, interspersed with works by David Tudor (Untitled, 1975/1994), John Cage (Fontana Mix with Aria with Indeterminacy, 1958), and Earle Brown (December 1952 and November 1952, both 1952).

It would have been enough to see this incredible roster of performers on the same stage together at the same time.  Each has a tremendous following, and each causes hearts to beat a little faster and pulses to race.  But the truth is that the music that was made that night was beyond good, and will stay in my memory for a very long time.  Perhaps especially David Behrman's Long Throw (2017- ), which was sublime.

Here's a little video clip of one of the ensemble performances, courtesy of the Walker Art Center, just to give you an idea of what you (may have) missed:

Laura Kuhn