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JOHN CAGE TRIBUTE: Marina Rosenfeld

Marina Rosenfeld on John Cage



Marina Rosenfeld at Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane, Australia, 2011. Photo: Bryan Spencer

Marina Rosenfeld

How Cage influenced my music

As a composer coming up, I took up the challenge of finding an oppositional position with the regard to Cage precisely because the position of the work itself was so foundational–essential, itself oppositional, but also total in some ways, seamless and blanket-like in its ability to answer for all phenomena. I clung initially to the idea that my own listening could not be accounted for by someone so seemingly “immune” to music as I understood it– or so I felt at the time (this was the early 90s, I guess, and my intellectual love affair at the time was with certain things from the 80s: Feldman especially). That argument went out the window, of course, many years ago as I came to know and love the precision and humor of so many of the pieces, especially those having a propositional as opposed to instructional character, but the project of discovering where Cage’s project begins and ends remains a kind of preoccupation. People talk a lot about Cage giving them license to do this or that– I never felt I needed that, at least not from him. What I take away now is the casual interconnectedness Cage pioneered between writing, reading, listening, composing and participating–I think of it as a conversation with the world, undertaken on whatever plane is at hand. For me, that has come to seem essential– something to emulate. roygbiv&b, excerpt from score for choir (2011)

Still from WHITE LINES, color video with notation (2003-ongoing)


Known equally as a composer of large-scale performances and an experimental turntablist working with hand-crafted dub plates, New York-based Marina Rosenfeld has been a leading voice in the increasing hybridization between the domains of visual art and music. She has created chamber and choral works; a series of acclaimed “orchestras” for floor-bound electric guitars and other unusual scenarios; and since 2008, a series of works, often mounted in monumental spaces, like the Park Avenue Armory in New York and Western Australia’s Midland Railway Workshops, deploying complexes of unamplified live performers and custom loudspeaker installations.

Rosenfeld’s work has been widely presented throughout Europe, North America and Australia, including recent commissioned projects for the Museum of Modern Art (NY), Serralves and Stedelijk museums; SPOR, Ultima and Holland Festivals; Whitney, Liverpool and PERFORMA Biennials; and many others. Recent collaborative projects include a duo with George Lewis (Sour Mash), Christian Marclay’s DJ Trio, improvised music for Merce Cunningham Dance Company and, forthcoming from the Room40 label in Fall 2012, a new recording featuring the collaboration of legendary Jamaican vocalist Warrior Queen. Rosenfeld teaches at Bard College, where she has co-chaired the MFA in Music/Sound since 2007. Read more:


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