Vir2Ual Cage

an expansive multi-media interpretation of John Cage’s Song Books

Cage, Song Books:   Solo for Voice 81:   Project four slides relevant to Thoreau.


Cage at the Hammer

The city associated most often with John Cage is probably New York, where he lived for nearly five decades and created most of his work.  But he was born in Los Angeles, and spent much of his youth there, as illuminated in this essay by Mark Swed.  (See also this guided tour of Cage’s formative years; the historical tidbits and rare photos, such as the one on the left from 1932, are well worth a look.)  The Los Angeles in which Cage came of age was a progressive, freewheeling, optimistic environment, with a burgeoning entertainment industry and community of émigrés who reshaped America’s artistic and cultural development.  Cage’s early career included a stint at UCLA, where during the 1930s he studied with Arnold Schoenberg, worked as a dance accompanist, taught a course, and began experimenting with unorthodox instruments.  Next week his Californian connections are evoked afresh in yet another event celebrating his centenary: On Sunday, 2 December 2012, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music and the Hammer Museum will co-present a day of performances, lectures, and a panel discussion reflecting on Cage’s roots and his legacy in music, dance, art, design, and architecture.

We mention this event here especially because at 1:00 p.m. in the Hammer Courtyard will be a 50-minute rendition of Song Books, produced by UCLA musicology professor Nina Eidsheim with Vir2Ual Cage colleagues Paul Berkolds, Jacqueline Bobak, and Mark Bobak, joined by CalArts graduate students Katie Gardner, Kirsten Ashley Wiest, and Paul Matthis.  Other music will include Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts, performed in the morning by the LaMi Quartet from UCLA, and an evening concert, featuring Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, by LA-based pianist Gloria Cheng.  The evening will include a Q & A session with Nancy Perloff, curator of the Getty Research Institute.  Presenters will include Thomas Hines, Sue Ellen Case, Susan Leigh Foster, Marjorie Perloff, and Erkki Huhtamo—a truly multi-disciplinary cast of scholars across various fields—followed by a panel of musicologists from UCLA, who will discuss Cage’s vast influence.  This mini-conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. and end after the evening’s concert, which will begin at 6:00 p.m.  Admission will be free.  For a detailed schedule and other information, please visit the Hammer online.

The Hammer Museum ranks among Los Angeles’ leading venues for exhibitions and programs that emphasize contemporary arts.  The Hammer’s current season includes plenty of music, featuring a residency by the colorful ensemble wild Up, whose members Mark Menzies and Richard Valitutto will perform Morton Feldman’s For John Cage at the museum on December 6th.  In association with UCLA, the Hammer’s mission is to “approach the arts with the same quest for knowledge, discovery, and understanding that guides the scientist, engineer, or anthropologist” and to “pursue the margins, explore unknown territory, rediscover the familiar, and take risks.”  The entire Vir2Ual Cage team shares this mission, and we’re proud to be part of this event.  If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please do come see us!



Examples & Samples: Part 2 of 2


In our preceding post, we discussed the performable archive at the core of Vir2Ual Cage, and how our score-making algorithm will generate renditions of Song Books.  In this post, we discuss how such renditions are presented or “staged,” and show a few samples comprised of “dummy” movies, substitutes that represent performances of solos but were […]

Examples & Samples: Part 1 of 2


In this post and the next, we discuss how Vir2Ual Cage will generate renditions of Song Books, and present a few sample renditions.  Along the way we encounter some technical issues that pertain specifically to our project and generally to interpreting Song Books.  From the outset we admit that this discussion is lengthy and somewhat […]

On Songs, Waltzes, and a Circus


Although this website is devoted primarily to our own work, in this post we discuss three other projects that are related to ours or deserve special recognition.  In light of this year’s Cage centenary, there’s recently been an abundance of performances, conferences, and interest surrounding his work.  But three recent events strike us as especially […]

Sights & Sounds from Latvia


It’s been just a few days since our two-and-a-half-week journey to Latvia, and already we’re missing our Latvian friends and colleagues—and also the wonderful towns, forests, coastlines, food, beer, and long summer evenings.  We began with a ten-day residency at the Tenth International Latvian Young Musicians’ Master Classes, held at the Music and Art School […]

Mēs Jūs aicināt uz Spīķeru Koncertzāli


Vir2Ual Cage cordially invites you to our next performance of Song Books at the distinctive Spīķeri venue in Riga on 25 July 2012 at 20:00.  Paul Berkolds, Jacqueline Bobak, and Mark Bobak will be joined by students from the International Latvian Young Musicians’ Master Classes in the town of Sigulda, where we conducted workshops on Song Books, as well […]

Song Books in Sigulda


As mentioned a few weeks ago, team members Paul Berkolds, Jacqueline Bobak, and Mark Bobak are excited to conduct a series of workshops for colleagues and students from the International Latvian Young Musicians’ Master Classes in Sigulda, Latvia from 14–23 July 2012, culminating in a performance of Song Books at the distinctive Spīķeri venue in […]

Sights & Sounds from The Long Books

Overview of the Main Gallery

It’s about time we posted additional material from our epic Long Books performance on 5 February 2012.  First, we’ve added a gallery of twenty photos, taken by CalArts photographer Steve Gunther, to supplement the ones posted here.  Second, under our Media menu we’ve posted a recording that documents a fraction of the music from the […]

Post-Game Notes

19 painting_LongBooks

Cage said that “Projects involving many people and many interruptions go well,” and that “The more egos you have, the better chance you have of eliminating the ego altogether.”  How true this seems when producing an incalculable event with so many performers, support personnel, and logistical details.  Sincere thanks and congratulations to all involved for […]

Super Book Sunday


Vir2Ual Cage, the California Institute of the Arts, and over thirty participating performers cordially invite you to The Long Books: John Cage’s Complete Song Books on Sunday, 5 February 2012 from 4:00–8:00 p.m. at CalArts.  Admission will be free. We realize this event will conflict with the Super Bowl, but we assure you that it […]