The Final Decade

Play for Today: Cornelius Cardew Conference
21 November 2009 – 22 November 2009

The final weekend of Calling Out Of Context focuses on the legacy of the British composer and activist Cornelius Cardew (1936-81), a figure who helped question artistic boundaries in the 1960s, but whose politics brought him back to more traditional and accessible forms of music-making in the 1970s

This two-day symposium on Cardew, involving participants from the worlds of art and music, is co-organised with The Drawing Room , and coincides with an exhibition at their east London gallery. Through talks, performances and panel discussions, thesymposium aims to remake – rather than repeat – the legacy of Cardew, examining the questions and contradictions of his practice for their contemporary relevance.

On both days of the symposium, artists and activists Ultra-red will be in the lower gallery with the School of Echoes, performing and presenting research into Cardew’s work.

Day 1

The first day of the symposium includes contributions from a wide range of participants, including John Tilbury (musician and Cardew collaborator and biographer), Frederic Rzewski (composer and virtuoso pianist), Grant Watson (curator at MuHKA, Antwerp), Adrian Rifkin (Professor of Art Writing, Goldsmiths College) and artist-duo the Otolith Group.

Day 2

The second day of the Cardew symposium begins with a performance of Autumn ‘60 (1960), an example of the composer’s avant-garde chamber music, led here by Dave Smith (musician and Cardew collaborator). This is followed by a performance of two ‘paragraphs’ of The Great Learning (1968-71), a work based on Confucian texts, led here by John Tilbury. The Great Learning is an ambitious cycle of work that Cardew created specifically for the Scratch Orchestra, and is one of the highlights of the composer’s musical career. They are played from scores that consists of written instructions and graphic notations, resulting in indeterminate works that demand an individual response from each performer.

The day continues with a performance by artist Beatrice Gibson of her work ‘if the route:’ the great learning of london [a taxi opera], followed by a discussion that includes contributions from Andrea Phillips (Director, Curating Architecture, Goldsmiths College), and Marcel Swiboda (lecturer in cultural theory, University of Leeds.