John Cage: Speech //

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Release date: 
Recording location: 
Recorded at An Lanntair Arts Centre, Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland
Recording date: 
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Peter Urpeth
  • 1. Radio Music for 1-8 Perfomers (06:22)
  • 2. Imaginary Landscape no. 5 (03:03)
  • 3. Speech For 5 Radios With Newsreader (41:46)

Peter Urpeth - conductor, radio
Stuart Wilding - radio
Gerry Loose - radio
Jon Macleod - radio
John Cavanagh - radio, voice
John Cage - composer

"The poignancy of Radio Music is not simply in the fact that it celebrates the life and work of one of the most influential -- and to my mind interesting -- of musicians, but also because with the looming switch-off of the analogue radio signal in favour of the DAB type digital signal, it will be impossible to perform Cage's large oeuvre for radio (which includes Radio Music [1955] and Imaginary Landscape No. 4 [1951]) in the UK when the analogue signal is turned off for good in 2017.

Cage's Radio Music requires multiple, precise retunings of each radio during the performance according to a set list of frequencies (with some periods of silence), which do not change according to the geographical location of each specific performance and which therefore enables chance and random soundings to occur. In the Outer Hebrides we have access to very few radio stations even on the analogue signal, so a great deal of the performance here will consist of the white noise blur of the FM/AM radio spectrum. The simple fact is that the sequence of retunings cannot be achieved on the DB digital system. With digital radio you have all the available channels or none, and you cannot select an individual frequency to listen to if it is not part of a digital package."