October 21, 2008

Performance features improvisational music

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An hour-long concert featuring silent music, music performed according to a flip of the coin, and an amplified cactus (yes, an amplified cactus) can mean only one thing -- Southern Illinois Improvisation Series 10 presents composer John Cage.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, in Altgeld Hall, Room 112 on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

SiiS is the brainchild of SIUC School of Music percussionist Ron Coulter. This performance, the 10th in a series, focuses on American composer John Cage (1912-1992). The program includes Cage’s famed 4’33, which you must hear to understand. (That’s sort of a joke. If you don’t get it, go to the concert and you’ll catch on pretty quickly.) Other pieces in the program are Three2, Five, Branches and Child of Tree -- for which the cactus plugs in.

The improvisational series of performances puts a spotlight on improvisational music, which Coulter has described as “the oldest and most widely practiced form of musical activity known to man” and also “often the least understood.”

SiiS concerts focus on sound, some of it not considered musical in the standard definition of the term, but certainly not just noise. Each concert is a collaborative experiment.

The concert is free and open to the public.