International Contemporary Ensemble | Museum of Contemporary Art | Classical | Chicago Reader
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International Contemporary Ensemble 

When: Sat., Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. 2012
Price: $10-$28
The 2012 centennial of John Cage has meant a deluge of opportunities for Chicagoans to experience his music live; it seems like every adventurous group in town has presented a program of his work this year. International Contemporary Ensemble gets in on the act this weekend with a typically fascinating program. Putting together a Cage concert can be tricky—he was wildly prolific and went through numerous stylistic phases—but ICE has come up with an ingenious conceit. They'll play nine Cage pieces, spanning a wide range of years (1942-'87), in between movements of Le Marteau Sans Maitre, the serialist masterpiece of French composer Pierre Boulez—a sort of musical analogue to the two men's famous correspondence, which began in 1949 and ended in 1954 (shortly before Boulez began Le Marteau). Boulez stands with Cage as one of the most important musical thinkers of the 20th century, but he favored meticulous discipline and concrete aesthetic parameters, while Cage abhorred dogma and favored experimentation. The Cage pieces, which will alternate with the Boulez movements in an unbroken stream, include the percussion work Amores (1943), the electronic piece Radio Music (1956), the indeterminate orchestral work Atlas Eclipticalis (1961-'62), and one of his late numbers compositions, Music for _______________ (1984-'87). In a New York Times review of a recent performance of the same program, Steve Smith noted that the sequencing revealed the composers' shared concerns and conflicting ideas, and at times choices made by one felt like "correctives" to excesses or rigidities in the other. ICE will be conducted by regular colleague Steven Schick, recently appointed the group's artist in residence through 2015. —Peter Margasak

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