Renowned pianist and conductor Stephen Drury visits Williams presenting an introduction to John Cage’s 1948 masterpiece, Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. In a tour of this landmark work, Mr. Drury performs examples and discusses the music and life of Cage. He also demonstrates the preparation of the piano, a process whereby 45 of the instrument’s notes are altered through the insertion in the strings of screws, bolts, rubber, plastic, nuts, and an eraser according to the composer’s precise specifications. Once completed, the piano is transformed into a strangely beautiful percussion orchestra or self-contained gamelan. Mr. Drury’s visit is a rare opportunity to hear the piano in a new way.
The music department presents this master class in conjunction with a concert on October 27 featuring Cage’s complete Sonatas and Interludes performed by Williams music students and faculty. The performance is the centerpiece of a year-long celebration of the centenary of Cage’s birth.