Boyd to play monumental piano piece

On Sept. 4, Butler University’s Kate Boyd will be performing the renowned “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano” by American composer John Cage in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Cage’s birth.

Boyd, the head of the piano department in the Jordan College of Fine Arts, spent her semester-long sabbatical last spring mastering the piece.

Since then, Boyd has  performed the piece in Ontario, Oklahoma and England.

“Being the 100th anniversary, I wanted to perform the piece as a way to commemorate Cage,” Boyd said.

Cage has been called one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, and “Sonatas and Interludes” is arguably his most complex work for prepared piano.

Cage specially altered a standard concert piano by adding screws and bolts to 45 strings. This distorts the sound of the piano, producing percussive sounds.

Boyd said that one of Cage’s main philosophies is to appreciate all noise as music and understand that people should not privilege music over traffic or any other noise.

Cage composed “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano” from 1946 to 1949.  The piece contains 16 different sonatas and four interludes, combining for a total of 65 minutes.

“John Cage used to be so far out that it seemed like he was from another planet,”  Daniel Bolin, chair of the music department, said, “but John Cage has become more and more listenable as our ears and experiences have expanded. He’s not a far-out composer by any means anymore.”

The performance will take place in the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday. The show is free and open to the public.


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