Fri May 24
Smith Memorial Center at PSU, 7pm, free
Everything is music to somebody--car doors slamming, two pieces of wax paper rubbing against each other, the sound of your boss yammering in the next office. Well, most of that stuff is music to John Cage, the guy who wrote "4'33""--a composition for piano in which the performer plays nothing and lets the sound of environment become the piece, made to prove that everything can be music if you shed the preconceived notions of what music should be. And you will be able to witness its performance at "Abstracts," a concert put on by PSU's newly formed Avant-Garde Music Society.
Before you go running for the hills after hearing the words "avant-garde," hang on for a sec. See, I know arty and classical music has a bad reputation with The People because of its associations with A. liberal arts colleges and B. the bourgeoisie. I mean, how accessible is classical music to the proletariat when tickets are $60, and the guy whose wrote the performed pieces spent his entire life in a frigging kingdom, writing music for monarchs? But not only is "Abstracts" free and all ages, it showcases the music of people who composed music in the 20th and 21st Centuries, who started electronic dance music as we know it, and who themselves were really interesting and really working class.
For instance, the Onyx Trio Messiaen is performing a piece by the great Dmitri Shostakovich, who spent a lot of his life afraid Stalin was about to give him the axe for writing music that was really abrasive and full of unrest. Later, Dan Gaynor will play some "atonal piano selections." It sounds cryptic, but it will probably sound really dissonant and outside boundaries, which is of course pretty punk rock, like when modern piano composers write out music just as a bunch of squiggly lines, and the pianist is supposed to play whatever they feel like playing. DIY composing! There's a lot more, like Scott Jackson remixing Schoenberg so you can dance to it, Steve Reich, and a bunch of other shit.
See, in actuality, the idea of EVERYTHING being music, though it may sound pretty lofty, is actually really beneficial to the proletariat, because if EVERYTHING is music, then ALL music is free--you don't have to pay ASCAP/BMI, or some management company to record the sound of winds rustling through trees, because that sound belongs to everybody. So people like John Cage were really cool, and maybe not so inaccessible after all.