Is INTO THE WOODS the Great American Musical?

Or, an unexpected farewell

Let the WordPress record show that I had planned this post long, long before the sudden death of Stephen Sondheim a week ago Friday. As I told my family when I called them thirty seconds after reading the news, there are those figures whose deaths you prepare for, and those figures whose deaths you don’t think to prepare for. Sondheim was 91, but my mind wasn’t on the closing of his last and greatest show. It just…didn’t seem like a thing that was going to happen in any real way. Even though everybody dies sometime. It’s surprisingly easy to forget.

But here we are. There really is a giant in the sky.

It may come as a surprise to people who know me well that I first knew Into the Woods as something to be mocked. It was a Gigliotti family running joke long after we first saw it at a community theatre, summer 2006. We found Sondheim’s intricate, wordy, and very long pièce de résistance, which opened in San Diego thirty-five years ago today and went on to shake Broadway, tough to take seriously.

How things change.

As I learned over time, but definitely over the past week, that was just Sondheim’s lyrical approach cranked up to its highest pitch of intensity. I have realized I’m not intimately familiar with the vast majority of his repertoire. In high school I was given a copy of his lyric collection Finishing the Hat—named after a number from Sunday in the Park with George, which I’ve neither seen nor heard in full—and I read and reread the libretto of Sweeney Todd. The full libretto, including the cut songs. My friends were big into Sweeney Todd, and thus I was bound to be too.

But this isn’t about any of those shows, it’s about Into the Woods. Also in high school, my sophomore year, I was cast as Cinderella in the school’s production, a role that no fifteen-year-old has any idea how to play realistically. I like to think I did my best, though, and many of my close friends were in the show with me (either that or the people in the show became my close friends), and when our voices blended as we sang “No One is Alone” we seemed to be truly tapping into something greater than the sum of our parts. By and large, a success.

I did another production six years later, in the same role, at the school where I was taking graduate-level classes and would soon enroll full-time. This time I had some life experience to lend Cindy, and also enough character-analysis experience to examine her a little more critically. She spent a lot of time passively wishing for things, she struggled with making decisions, and despite the centuries-old mythology enshrining her as the paragon of virtue there was nothing especially virtuous about her. Were we…even supposed to like her?

This is a question we ask of all the principals in the show, and of the principals of most of Sondheim’s other shows. He understood better than anyone that protagonists do not heroes make, and that moral ambiguity—sympathy for a bloodthirsty barber, a girl pointing a gun at the gang members whose skirmishes killed her true love, a bunch of neurotic city-dwellers running out on their marriages—spoke to everyday Americans and the dreams they cherished. Everybody makes choices that bring the judgment of others (characters and audience) upon them. Nobody ends up ‘on top.’ Some may or may not be responsible for the deaths of others. It’s hard to know which way is up.

‘The Woods,’ as a setting, are a convenient metaphor for America: a no-man’s-land where the rules are constantly changing and promises cannot possibly be lived up to. (Not to mention where you’re up after midnight all the time and insurance won’t cover the damages to your house after a ‘baking accident.’) They’re a metaphor for life in general, sure, but as to the idiosyncratic comedies and tragedies of American life…the shoe fits a little too well.

I think the answer to my titular question is no. Into the Woods is not the Great American Musical any more than The Great Gatsby is the Great American Novel. Also, maybe the fact that we keep compulsively creating Great American Categories should tell us something about ourselves. But Sondheim could well be the great American musical composer. Not musical number composer, for all ye who will protest in defense of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter and the Gershwins (#Gershwinning). I mean that, by the time he was writing—and by the point of development the American musical had reached, largely thanks to him—he was able to address his soliloquies and anthems and ballads and group numbers directly to the people in the seats, and to the hopes and fears in their hearts. He could do this as no other composer could, because he was in the right place at the right time with the right skills.

Maybe he knew his path through the woods better than some. Maybe not. Either way, he put it best:

“Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood. Do not let it grieve you. No one leaves for good.”

In memoriam Stephen Sondheim, 22 March 1930-26 November 2021.

Image: from TheaterMania, the original Broadway cast—but mostly Bernadette Peters—presumably gazing up at the Giant

NaNoWriMo???

In which I take a month’s inventory

November is National Novel Writing Month, as the US-based organization attempting to bully us into drafting 50,000 words would have us believe. I’ll mention it in passing to non-Americans who look at me as if I’ve just thrown in a dialect word, and, in a way, I have.

I’ve never done the NaNoWriMo challenge in its pure form. I may someday, although I don’t feel in any rush. I do try to take the moment to recommit to my writing goals and priorities: for me it’s more of a NaReVaStaShoProMo (National Resume Various Stalled Shorter Projects Month). I have friends who use their own blogs to meticulously track their efforts, and seriously, all the power to them. So far that has not been me. I get the sense it is not a lot of people, and that they think they might as well give up if their work doesn’t fit into a quantifiable framework of success.

But not cranking out 50,000 words, either on one project or across several, is hardly synonymous with having made no creative strides. As a case in point, here is a rundown of November events in my corner of the writerverse.

  • A flash fiction piece included in an anthology
  • Two (out of three submitted) poems accepted into the debut anthology of a small press, both of which I wrote a number of years ago
  • A rejection letter regarding a short story that, despite its failure to make the journal, was “the source of much conversation among the editors,” and the fact that they enjoyed my writing enough to tell me
  • A couple other such rejections, really encouraging with their genuine praise and letting me know—to paraphrase somebody—that sometimes, instead of getting the outcome you want, you get the outcome you need
  • (Regarding the previous two points, I have generally regarded fiction as my weakest genre, so to hear this feedback about my short stories meant a little extra to me)
  • A playwriting workshop that introduced me to yet another community of aspiring local writers in a genre we all want to learn more about, and that has already pushed me out of my comfort zone in my approach to character and story arc

A writer’s work is never done, no matter their successes. And progress is progress, no matter how humble it looks. Whatever you’re working on right now, of any sort—a quilt, a spreadsheet, a model airplane, a novel you started reading ages ago that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand—keep going!

Get back, JoJo!

In which I dig a pony (and a lot of other things)

On Saturday, from mid-afternoon to midnight, a friend and I marathoned Peter Jackson’s new three-part documentary The Beatles Get Back. This is supposedly (and I do suppose) the entirety of the footage from which the original Let It Be film was culled.

You guys.

I would say we have to rewrite history, but the history was written correctly all along and it’s just that we now have the opportunity to see it with our own eyeballs. The band aren’t at one another’s throats the entire time, and nary a tension boils over (except for the period where George walks out, but even that could be remedied; watch the thing and you’ll see). There are no mean-spirited jabs at Yoko. Read that again. She is present but not at all intrusive or interfering; Paul even tries joking around with her, which in this group is the ultimate demonstration of a desire to include someone. Old buddy George Martin is there, looking far too smart to be hanging around the likes of these long-haired weirdos. Linda and Heather Soon-To-Be-McCartney get some screen time, and let me tell you, five-year-old Heather knows how to work a room. Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of Let It Be, who got all this footage to begin with, is constantly in dialogue with the band about how they want these sessions to go: when to rehearse? When to record? Will they do a TV special? No, a concert! Where will the concert be? On a boat? In Libya? No, on the roof of 3 Savile Row! Everyone is excited to lay down the new songs and perform them live.

So it would seem that the whole urban legend is in fact just that. Still, as someone pointed out to me, it came together to at least some extent because the people on the inside wanted us to believe it—that is, the stories weren’t simply fabricated by the press or other external sources. The band members needed that myth just as much as the public did, if not more. They couldn’t have walked away from the most successful band in the world by saying “#selfcare” and peacing out. There had to be some justification to the legions of heartbroken fans. And it was easy to weave those stories out of the fabric of their final days together: they were credible, if not true. Not that none of it was true. I think the White Album sessions ended up being more of a strain than these. (That said, although they probably did not intend to hurt Yoko, she got very hurt in the process, and I believe someone owes her an official apology if one has not already been issued.)

Of course, we’re all drawn to juicy drama, and acrimonious band breakups—especially in the upper echelons—hold a Schadenfreude kind of allure for ordinary people. But after the bleakness of the nearly two COVID years we’ve had, I couldn’t have been happier to see four guys who are obviously best friends and obviously remember how important they are to one another just jam out and have the time of their lives creating music. They began their joint career with a live act; they knew they had to end it with one. That’s the uplifting content we need right now.

And here’s where I must say, because it’s a documentation of recording sessions: prepare to hear the same songs over and over again. I’m lucky I love “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” as much as I do, because those two are ever-present. I was reminded again that the songwriters were only getting stronger: I’ve always liked “I Me Mine,” one of the two Harrison contributions to the album, but “For You Blue” is pretty darn good too, and I loved watching them rehearse it. We also hear snippets of solo Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney tunes which would surface on their respective releases within a couple years. And there’s just so much to see—I’ll definitely be returning and watching each segment more slowly, to digest it thoroughly and catch the many details I missed.

One thing I remember vividly about first getting into the Beatles is all the smiling. I couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin off my face whenever I listened to their songs. The Beatles were, ultimately, a story of joy and friendship. They help me to continue to choose those things for myself and my life, both at times when the choice comes easy and at times when it takes a toll. It was so affirming to see their love for one another and their people and their music reflected in this expansive (and very well-restored) collection of material. As John said on “Dig a Pony,” you can radiate everything you are.

Some favorite moments:

  • George muttering “maybe we should learn a few songs first” at the beginning (he is frequently seen having fun during the sessions, clearly against his will)
  • John forgetting the words to a verse of “Don’t Let Me Down” on the rooftop and singing nonsense (and the look on his face during the playback of the tapes)
  • Paul’s sweaters (solid colors, on point the whole time honestly)
  • The genesis and evolution of “The Long and Winding Road,” truly one of the finest McCartney compositions
  • The lady who, when asked about her feelings as the rooftop gig is going on, grumbles “they woke me up from my sleep and I don’t like it”
  • All the goofing off during rehearsing and recording, really—it just looks like so much fun!

So Long, Freddie

In which I prolong the goodbye

Today marks thirty years since Freddie Mercury, or the former Farrokh Bulsara, left us for a world where everyone’s inner ear finally matches his. He had something like a four-octave range, he could play the piano upside down, and he rocked a fur coat better than he had any right to. He was one of those flares that are brief and so, so bright.

I didn’t really take Queen seriously for the first twelve years that I knew them due to certain influences (though nothing could stop “Seven Seas of Rhye” being my jam), so it was only post-Bohemian Rhapsody that I began to appreciate just how much we lost.

He was a Performer, in the sense of Plato’s ideal. Even within the format of those silly lip-synced TV spots he drew you in (seriously, watch that link). I wish our existences on this plane could have overlapped; in lieu of that I’m thankful to be able to share in the cultural memory of him, which I’m sure will not fade for a very long time.

He became a symbol of the movement for HIV/AIDS awareness, though the real problem was that the powers that were had plenty of awareness and no willingness to help. And while he never spoke on the record about his sexuality, he was such a high-profile figure that sooner or later the advocates who had been organizing all along for those affected by HIV—both inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community—had to be acknowledged (if less than vindicated) on a larger scale.

He honestly changed the world. I know as a culture we place way too much emphasis on individuals who supposedly do that when it’s the collective that makes true progress. But he was one of the greatest ambassadors for the belief that music has the power to change the world. A lot of people have come, and will come, to believe it because of him.

We still miss you, darling.

Image: from best of queen, one of my favorite Twitter accounts. A killer queen if ever there was one.

Cecilia of Charlottenburg

Or, a wordy Pinterest board

Last weekend I traveled from my neighborhood in the former East Berlin to visit a friend of mine in the western neighborhood of Charlottenburg. I take just about every chance I get to stroll through Charlottenburg because of how fancy I feel doing it. Seeing it at night this time, due to a very early sunset, newly accentuated aspects of the buildings. The windows and balconies are, I kid you not, at least twice the size of those in my area (balconies aren’t extremely common on the east side), even on the top floors; and the ground-floor establishments sport generous windows and polished presentation—plenty of galleries, salons, and the kind of cafés where I can imagine rounding up the writers of the Roaring 2020s to work and drink and exchange ideas (Siri, remind me to round up said writers). In sum, one of the starkest examples of the power of postwar urban planning and reorganizing.

I also had not a little fun picturing the sort of life I would lead, and the sort of person I would be, were I in possession of one of those terraced, high-ceilinged flats. Let’s say the more established, elegant Cecilia of a few years down the line. That Cecilia:

  • Collects art (mostly prints—by local artists of course, plus a few international to spice things up)
  • Is a visual artist (one room in her flat is a studio strewn with canvases, which she sometimes lays flat on the floor to paint upon, and also she has a tripod for her camera)
  • Wears caftans and/or flowy scarves
  • Plays vinyl records on a turntable
  • Has side tables, and puts candles on the side tables, and burns the candles in the evenings
  • Places her keys in a ceramic bowl near the front door
  • Invites people for weekend brunches
  • Hosts the occasional zingaration, which I cannot find on the internet but I promise is a real word (from one of those word-of-the-day calendars) referring to a specifically musical gathering where people bring songs to share
  • Is an old regular at one of the aforementioned cafés, and updates the staff on the progress of the novel/essay/poetry collection
  • Perhaps has a cat

Will I ever meet her? Time will tell…

Image: a square near Kurfürstendamm, taken by the author in October 2020

Edie, Again

A costumed tribute

Halloween weekend was a strange one this year, and I had to delay and transform some planned things. It turned out to suit the personality I evoked, who was always fashionably late.

Today marks fifty years since we lost Edith Minturn Sedgwick. I didn’t foresee at the time I first explored her life how quickly and radically she would influence me in style and mindset. Not that I’m aiming to follow her activities down to the letter (“should I be concerned that you’re imitating her” : my dad) but just that her approach to and presentation in the world has given me permission to be a little more experimental and whimsical and bold. Or at least to wear flashier earrings and indulge my existing love for black tights.

I’m not sure young women with privilege and charisma are done any less a disservice in the current public climate than she and her ilk were in theirs. I do think there is more personal agency to go around nowadays, and that women of all ages are using it to amplify their own voices and tell their own stories. Edie didn’t often get the opportunity to tell hers. The work we do, we can do in her honor.

Raising a glass to your fog, your amphetamines, and your pearls. Whatever party there is after this, I’ll dance on the table with you.

20 April 1943—16 November 1971 ♥️

more 📸 here and here

On Persona

Or, how much do we really know—and show—one another?

In the latest installment of Unresearched Musings—yes I am accepting sponsors to keep the series running—I’m mulling over the performance of personality, both large-scale (celebrity) and small-scale (everyday ‘ordinary’ interaction).

We are not consistent, immutable beings. Even armed with the list of attributes (voluntary and involuntary, self-styled and hereditary) that make us each ‘who we are,’ we pick and choose which of these to display at any given moment. We have subsets of our personalities that suit us best in certain situations and thus only reveal themselves when they feel called for. Not all of these subsets are intentional or conscious; they can surprise us by showing up at unexpected times or by even showing up at all, causing us to believe that we have acted somehow out of character. Kind of like Billy Joel’s thesis in “The Stranger.”

The reality is that a vast array of seemingly contradictory traits can exist inside us simultaneously. And they can all be ‘real,’ for lack of a better term: legitimate, valid parts of our image, whether visible to ourselves alone or to others. As we get older and continue to test the limits of who we can be in the world, we get more familiar with the nuances and perceived inconsistencies of our sub-personalities. (For instance, I’ve discovered I can get quite protective of my friends when it comes to the people they date, irrespective of whether I get along with those people.)

Given how complex we understand ourselves to be, I find it amazing how infrequently, or in what a limited capacity, we extend the same understanding to others, particularly to high-profile people—public personalities, if you will. Their front-facing personality traits are, as a default, what we take to represent their entire selves. This does neither them nor us any good, and in fact usually does harm.

I’ll give an example. A friend of mine has been listening deeply to Harry Styles, to my delight. I’ve been a conscious fan of his since his 2017 solo debut but become even more aware of the person behind the music since joining Twitter and Instagram and finding myself adjacent to the worldwide stan community’s discussions and photos. Suffice it to say his recent resumed Love On Tour has really bolstered the content. I wouldn’t call myself a stan, although I like his musical sensibility and him; and I will allow for the fact that he is one of those musicians (because they’re always musicians, for me) with whom I could picture falling suddenly and dizzyingly in love were I ever to meet him IRL. Never say never.

My friend and I have remarked on what a nice person Harry appears to be. Not the toxic ‘nice guy’ of modern media who masks his entitlement with a harmless-looking façade: we mean a genuinely decent person who treats everyone he encounters with respect and would probably be very pleasant to hang out with—someone who would make us, two young women, feel safe in his company. I think this is what draws a lot of women and girls to him. His whole brand since 2019’s Fine Line has been “Treat People With Kindness,” as one of the songs is titled. He tries to empower his fans to speak their truths and claim their identities, and to lead by example. He just seems good.

One thing we haven’t said but that wouldn’t be out of place in such an exchange is that he seems to have a head on his shoulders, that he’s down-to-earth despite having been in the public eye since he was a teenager in One Direction and having only risen to greater prominence since. ‘Down-to-earth’ is a blanket quality ascribed to celebrities who don’t give the immediate impression of their worldview having been irreparably skewed by the demands and standards of celebrity life. But can anyone escape that concentrated exposure unscathed? And if they do appear a little (or a lot) out of touch with a more ordinary level of reality, does it make them bad or negate the high points of their personality?

Essentially we have no idea how ‘good’ Harry actually is. His image pretty much radiates positivity, but he’s as complicated as anybody and the positivity he communicates to us is surely the tip of the iceberg. He is a man, and so enjoys a leeway that many celebrity women are denied; he’s also been attacked for his fair share of attitudes and actions, such as his Vogue cover. It will be interesting to see how his front-facing persona evolves—if, for instance. we ever see him get angry. I have reason to suspect that an angry Harry Styles would turn a lot of people on, so it can’t be all bad.

Then we have someone like Lorde, whose persona and message have changed significantly since the goth-girl look that defined her first album Pure Heroine. Upon the release of her new LP Solar Power, which explores themes of forgiveness and choosing happiness and features a sunny color scheme to match, there was buzz on Twitter over how the scowling, black-lipsticked Lorde of 2014 would never be seen with the smiling Lorde of 2021. But would we want to be seen with the 2014 versions of ourselves? People change. Lorde’s evolution has happened in such a way that some traits of hers that were more pronounced then have made room for other traits that were once more dormant. They’re all still there, though, because they’re all part of her and they’ve all helped to shape who she is. We too go through holding patterns and revolutions, and we too perform them for our world.

Countless versions of ourselves coexist, ready to rear their heads when we least expect it. We can work on ourselves and aspire to certain images, but we don’t have to reject anything. In fact, we would do well to be compassionate toward our own inconsistencies—as well as to the inconsistencies of others, no matter how large their social-media followings—because to reject those inconsistencies is to reject our own human natures, and we can’t get along in this world if we don’t stand by ourselves.

Anyway. To paraphrase Harry, treat yourself with the kindness you’d like others to treat you with.

On Taste & Its Influences

In which I shop genealogy

Recently I got way too worked up (as usual) over music (as usual). Or, not so much the music itself as the reason behind its place in my life. I was wondering about the way I’d come to appreciate certain genres and artists and whether it would have worked out like that had I not been exposed to them at a particular time or by particular people, and what that said about me.

The answer, it occurred to me shortly thereafter, is of course it wouldn’t have worked out like that. Nothing would have worked out like that. Everything would have been different. Such is life, a series of experiences and choices that alter our perception of the world and our own identities in varying degrees of magnitude, within and beyond our individual control. Every experience we have, every choice we make, spirals us off in unforeseeable directions and closes off one path even as it opens numerous others. It’s like decapitating a Hydra: several new heads spring up in place of the original.

I turned it into a neurosis because that’s what I do when I’m kept awake late at night by insecurity and vulnerability. But even in my righter mind I do think taste in music is a unique case study, being shaped so heavily and randomly by the people around us. The absorption of music is often passive; you hear it in the car or in the supermarket or in a movie you’ve elected to watch. You chose the movie: you didn’t choose its soundtrack (unless it’s The Big Chill). However many people recommend a book to you, it takes an active decision on your part to crack the spine. Music can be happening in the background, while you go about your life, and escape your notice until later. Sometimes much later. Sometimes only at the point where you do actively seek it out.

In my childhood, music frequently happened to me before I was aware of it. There were types I gravitated toward, which is common with kids (like Emma and “Baby Got Back” on Friends), but much of the time I simply filed away what I was hearing for future identification and/or examination. Well, not simply; subconsciously, at a level I wouldn’t tap into until my teen years and whose full scope I’m still registering even now. I was raised by people of an eclectic, far-reaching music appreciation, which they manifested in different ways; and I began, consciously and unconsciously, to imitate and synthesize those manifestations.

Somewhere along the line, aided by an overdeveloped inner censor, I got the idea that it must have looked horribly derivative, my cribbing methods of analysis and even artists themselves from the adults in my life, like I needed to be led to a thing (to be fair, I did not see well) instead of discovering it on my own, like I didn’t have an original bone in my body.

(Guess what? I don’t. My bones are made of converted stardust and the old bones of the previously deceased, as are yours.)

But that’s life too, isn’t it? Learning from your forebears and building on the foundation that they laid? Inspiration is a thing to be celebrated. When you inspire someone else to ‘discover’ something—a singer, a filmmaker, a hobby—you never regard it as their having stolen from you. You’re happy and fulfilled to have given the gift of your love to someone who could use it. And they won’t interpret that thing exactly as you do, because they’re a different person, no matter how much DNA you share. And if you do share DNA, and spend a lot of time together, the influence is bound to rub off. It’s a long game, an intergenerational improvisation, each enthusiast riffing on the material of the person they got it from. It’s one of the things that make life worth living.

That said, I wonder too about the actual hereditary potential of artistic taste. Can taste, in short, be inherited?

The people I’ve engaged in conversation about it say no. They’re probably right. I can’t say I’ve never wondered what life will be like if some future kid of mine hates the Beatles. But it isn’t nearly so simple or linear: children are aware of the way their parents are and alternately drawn to and repelled by those same traits or interests or tendencies at different points in their lives for different reasons. Sharing a connection through the music that you listen to isn’t a genetic guarantee, but it can be present without your noticing. In my case, it can be a bridge that was built for you long ago which you come back to cross every so often as a sort of promise to the people you love, a way of saying you’ll always be close and you recognize what they mean to you.

Genes alone aren’t enough to do that. Music can connect you to anyone at any time. It can form bonds that grow into chosen families. That type of experience is perpetually new for me. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the people it allows me to know, or the people I thought I knew whom I’m given the chance to get to know all over again.

POD SOUNDS VOL. 2!

Hello all! I’m thrilled to announce the new season of Pod Sounds—complete with new artwork by @sarahnhixsonart!

This time we’re covering Randy Newman’s 1977 album Little Criminals, on which my co-host Gil is the clear expert. First episode is up on all platforms.

After the slight delay caused by unexpected events, it’s especially renewing and refreshing to get this second season off the ground. As always, hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoy making it.

Love—Cecilia

Notes on Experimental Warehouse Music

In which I venture out alone in the dark

The other night I attended a performance by an international chamber group in a warehouse, complete with light installation and spaced-out seating. One of those true Artsy Events you would expect to encounter in an Artsy City.

And boy was I not let down. In fact, I was a little bit scared at times. Likely by design—the six musicians definitely used and interacted with their instruments with no intention of catering to the listener’s comfort. A pleasant listening experience—or at least one that relieved the listener from actively engaging their brain—was not the point.

Here follow some notes on what I saw and heard over the course of an hour-plus in a room with a smattering of masked people and little to no speech.

  • Violin squawking, cello moaning, bass saxophone (?? I think this is incorrect—the instrument is quite long and tall and mounted on a stand—but I don’t know the names of other such instruments belonging to that family. Brian Wilson would know. anyway, woodwinds) grunting, flute skittering
  • Cello grating, violin keening, woodwinds droning, flute insisting
  • Cello and woodwinds intoning, violin and flute screeching
  • Violin yelping, flute whining, cello battering, woodwinds hooting
  • Move at will and let the act of playing your music take your body wherever it is going
  • Players approaching and crossing into one another’s spaces—nothing is off-limits or out of bounds
  • Stop playing when your pendulum stops swinging, or when someone manually stops your pendulum: forces of nature and man counteracting
  • Emphasis on the exacting nature of repetition, the science (and mathematics) behind the ‘art’ of music
  • Both sound and silence fill the space—positive and negative substances, presence and absence
  • Instruments passing turns to one another in improvised phrases: key, tempo, rhythm all irrespective of one another
  • Much owed to free-form jazz but just in the context of a classical/orchestral framework
  • Intense, dare I say radical, interdependence among players: each one has to trust the others wholly and unhesitatingly
  • Multimedia: faces, voices, bodies play off of, and participate in, sound created
  • Not always easy to tell where one piece ends and the next begins
  • I think I leave with a better understanding of what John Cage (and, later, John Cale) was getting at…

Image: somewhere in Lichtenberg, pre-show