Wednesday, September 22, 2021
HomeNews20 years of the John Cage Organ Art Project | MDR.DE

20 years of the John Cage Organ Art Project | MDR.DE




“As SLow aS Possible” – this is what the composer John Cage wrote down at the tempo of his four-page work. He wrote the piece in 1985 and dedicated it to the German organist Gerd Zacher. Apart from the pitch and duration of the sounds, nothing is specified here. For 20 years, steady soft tones have been heard from the Halstadt church of St. Burchadi, although only 14 sound changes have been made since the beginning. The realization of John Cage’s composition is to be continued for 619 more years. For visitors like Valerie Döhren from Lake Constance, it is a special experience:

So I actually got tears when I went through. Because the sound just goes through the whole body and when you imagine this time […] it’s an insanely long time and very impressive that it goes beyond human lives.

A new hearing

So it’s not about melody and rhythm, but rather about the musical examination of time in Cage’s work. In addition, “ORGAN² / ASLSP” encourages a new way of listening. This is also what Rainer Neugebauer from the John Cage Organ Foundation thinks:




It is simply the possibility of listening to a sound indefinitely. You almost never have this option in your practical life.

Financing and securing the future

Despite initial skepticism about the project, it has met with a lot of positive feedback over the course of 20 years. The foundation is also aware of this:

Initially ridiculed by many as a crazy idea, it has now fully established itself. Worldwide response and it has become one of the reference projects for contemporary art at all.

However, the foundation must also ask itself how it will continue to finance its long-term project. In order for John Cage’s work to be realized for the next 619 years, alternative financing options must be found.


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