John Cage: Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) (June, 1987)
Diane Luchese, organist
St. Anne’s Cathedral, Great George Street, Leeds LS2 8BE
The starting times of the eight sections are given below:
1 (9:00 PM) 30 June 2017
2 (10:22’30” PM)
3 (11:45 PM)
4 (1:07’30” AM)
5 (2:30 AM)
6 (3:52’30” AM)
7 (5:15 AM)
8 (6:37’30” AM – 8:00 AM) 1 July 2017
Organ2/ASLSP was composed at the request of Gerd Zacher, who suggested to John Cage that he consider adapting his piano work, ASLSP, to the organ. The sustaining power of the organ presents a myriad of possibilities as to how one can interpret the “as slow as possible” tempo. For example, while Zacher’s premiere performance lasted twenty-nine minutes, two other organists chose to interpret “as slow as possible” as a length that could fit onto a single CD recording. The John Cage Project in Halberstadt, Germany is interpreting “as slow as possible” to mean “for the potential lifetime of an organ.” That performance, begun in 2001, is scheduled to last 639 years, making it the longest scheduled concert in history. The organ there is being built as the piece progresses, with sandbags playing the role of organist. This evening’s realization will last eleven hours. This tempo is “as slow as possible” as to not interfere with the Performing Indeterminacy conference events.
Composed through chance operations, Cage’s proportional notation indicates specific pitches whose durations are indicated via thick lines extending out from noteheads until the moment of their release. The pitches, their relative durations, and the “as slow as possible” tempo instruction for these eight movements are Cage’s only performance directives. The unique color palette of each individual organ in its own acoustical environment and the absence of dynamic markings together ensure that registration and timbre are indeterminate.
NOTE: This is an uninterrupted and complete performance of the work, with adherence to the temporal proportions indicated and without intermissions. All silences in tonight’s concert correspond to notated rests. The audience is invited to move about the room freely and experience the sounds from as many vantage points as desired. The audience is welcome to stay as little or as long as desired.