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Meredith Monk Meets John Cage: Where the Heart Beats

Book Launch & Performance

Monday, July 23, 2012
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

Meredith Monk talks to author Kay Larson (Where the Heart Beats:John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists) about her encounters with Buddhism, John Cage, and performs selections from his ‘Song Books’, recently included in the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks Series.
Presented in association with Buddhadharma

About Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists.

Before there was serious Buddhist practice in America, the experimental composer John Cage was seriously practicing Buddhism. In the 1950s, Cage heard lectures on Zen by the great Japanese scholar D. T. Suzuki. These ancient teachings spoke to Cage as though meant just for him. He wrote ecstatic praises to Zen, music based on Zen principles of indeterminacy and chance, and a “silent piece” (4’33”) that honors Suzuki’s teachings: “Silence” and “emptiness” are Buddhist shorthand for the inconceivable luminosity—the Absolute “nothing”—out of which all the “somethings” arise in their multitudinous splendor. Cage’s transformation became ground zero in a new international postmodern art, music, and performance avant-garde that still honors him as pioneer.

About the Speakers

Kay Larson—an acclaimed art critic, columnist, and editor—began her career in journalism at Boston’s Real Paper, later becoming an associate editor at ARTnews and an art critic for The Village Voice. She was the art critic for New York magazine for fourteen years and has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times. In 1994, Larson entered Zen practice at a Buddhist monastery in upstate New York. Though she has written for many types of publications, this is her first book.
Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer, and creator of new opera, music theater works, films, and installations. A pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance,” Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound, in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. She has alternately been proclaimed as a “magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers.” Monk is the recipient of numerous awards including the MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1995. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named a United States Artists Fellow in 2006. This is her fifth appearance at the Rubin Museum.