29 October 2013

As Slow As Possible on the Way Home from... (Berlin - 5650 km)

(Berlin, 23.10.2013 - 25.10.2013) On the way home I'm visiting Halberstadt, a small town in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Although Halberstadt is the capital of the Harz District and had one of the largest Jewish communities in Central Europe in the 17th century, nowadays the city is not really famed for its tourist attractions.

But the St. Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, leased by the John Cage Organ Foundation, is the concert hall for the World's slowest concert: ORGAN²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) is a musical piece by John Cage and the subject of one of the longest-lasting musical performances yet undertaken. The performance of the organ version at St. Burchardi Church began in 2001 and is scheduled to have a duration of 639 years, ending not earlier than in 2640.

29 minutes and 14 seconds, exactly the length of the premiere performance of John Cage's composition ORGAN²/ASLSP (JC{639}) by Gerd Zacher in Metz in 1987, morphed in its extended version into 639 years, the total calculated duration of the project.

The piece started with a 17-month rest on September 5, 2001, John Cage's 89th birthday. The first sound appeared on February 5, 2003. On October 5, 2013, more than 1,500 visitors attended the 14th chord change at the St. Burchardi Church. The next sound change will take place on September 5, 2020.

(JC{639}) is at the same time the title of an outstanding documentary film, made by Sabine Groschup, dedicated to John Cage on his hundredth birthday, which was celebrated around the world in 2012.

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