Avant Music Festival at the Wild Project, February 16, 2013
The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2013
Last month I was lucky enough to get to hear a live performance of John Cage's Apartment House 1776 as part of the Avant Music Festival – and a gorgeous, inspired account it was, too. The concert was a matinee on the festival's second day; the biggest reason that it pains me to have fallen behind on blogging is that I ought to have found time to post this review before the festival ended a week later. (True, the review appeared during my self-imposed hiatus from work, but still…)
As my review says, how far we've come from the New York City premiere of this salute to the American Bicentennial, presented by the New York Philharmonic in November 1976. “Hundreds Walk Out of Premiere of John Cage Work at Fisher Hall,” the New York Times headline blared. Still, Allen Hughes was on the whole quite respectful in his review (alas, only available in the premium archive):
"Renga with Apartment House 1776" may not be great musical art (which is not Cage's aim nowadays) but it would be difficult to imagine a lustier celebration of the musical past of a bustling, brawling, sprawling, melting-pot nation than this uninhibited score.
Andrew Porter, in The New Yorker, found the work "tedious," while Richard Dyer, reviewing the world premiere at the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiere for the Boston Globe, called it "fascinating" and "elusive."
One thing I wished I'd noticed before I wrote my review: Matoaka Little Eagle, who sang and chanted the Native Ameican portions of Apartment House 1776 at the Wild Project, is the daughter of Chief Swift Eagle, who performed the same role in the 1976 performances. Fascinating.