The Fairmont State University Marching Band, Collegiate Singers and Chamber Choir combined on Thursday, Sept. 5, for a campus performance of 4’33” by John Cage.
Sept. 5 was the anniversary of Cage's birth in 1912. Cage's work, which premiered in 1952, is sometimes hailed as one of the significant musical works of the last century.
John Cage was a composer whose artistic philosophy was heavily influenced by Eastern spirituality, especially Zen Buddhism. He sought compositional methods that allowed him to relinquish control of what the finished product would actually sound like. He also loved sound itself, beyond the specific sounds that performers are directed to make in the performance of a given piece of music. The ultimate distillation of these two ideas is his composition 4’33”, in which the performers make no sound at all for the prescribed length of the piece. The ambient sounds occurring while the performers are being intentionally silent are the substance of the performance.
The performance was planned to tie into the campus and community Common Book selection for the 2013-2014 academic year, which is George Prochnik’s “In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise.” The book examines why society has become so loud and what gets lost when people can no longer find quiet.