Collector: John Cage, Vicky Chow, IT IT

Each Friday, Collector will present three disparate but artistically worthwhile digital artifacts from the worlds of music, performance, and art.


John Cage “Four2

Composed for and dedicated to the Madrigal Choir of the Hood River Valley High School, “Four2” is one of John Cage’s late period (1987–1992) compositions where the first number in the piece title refers to the number of performers involved and the second number, the exponent, indicates how many pieces have already been written for that number of performers. In this case, “Four2” — Medium doesn’t seem to accommodate exponent formatting — is the second piece for four performers. But, as a curve ball, in this performance, four performers is interpreted as four groups of performers — sopranos, altos, tenors, basses.

Most of these pieces incorporated Cage’s timed time bracket notation technique, indicating when a note or sequence of notes should start and end.

For this piece, “There are 3 time brackets for sopranos, 4 for altos, 6 for tenors, and 6 for the basses. The score also supplies a pronunciation table. Each section of the chorus (sopranos, altos, etc.) may be divided into two or more groups, so that one group started the sound and the other continued it.”

I was only recently made aware of Cage’s 40 numbered pieces. They are quite beautiful!

Vicky Chow performing Tristan Perich’s “Surface Image”

I had the pleasure to see Bang on a Can All-Stars’ pianist Vicky Chow perform this piece live at The Andy Warhol Museum as part of Pitt’s Music on the Edge series. “Surface Image” is composed for solo piano and 40-­channel 1-­bit electronics. While the electronics are captivating, gorgeously thickening and thinning in rhythmic bursts and drones, Chow’s performance of this intense work is magnificent!

IT IT “Everyone Can Win”

I love how every song on this EP starts with collaged voices and instrumental tracks and then finds in the middle of a beautiful pop song. This record is definitely one of the more delightfully surprising releases from a Pittsburgh band in a while — a record that keeps twisting in and out of its core of guitars, drums, and really lovely vocals.