As Slow as Possible

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St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany.

Organ2/ASLSP has been playing in Halberstadt for

22 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and 5 days

ORGAN2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) is a musical piece by John Cage and the subject of the second-longest-lasting musical performance yet undertaken.[1] Cage wrote it in 1987 for organ, as an adaptation of his 1985 composition ASLSP for piano. A performance of the piano version usually lasts 20 to 70 minutes.[2]

An organ in St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt in 2001 began a performance that is due to end in 2640. This makes it the longest running non-computerized piece currently being performed. The most recent note was played on February 5, 2024. The next note will be played on August 5, 2026.

History[edit]

The Friends of the Maryland Summer Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts commissioned the piece for contemporary requirement of a piano competition. Cage used an open format to ensure no two performances would be the same, and give judges a break from the consistency of most compositions. The score is eight pages.

Performances[edit]

Diane Luchese played Organ2/ASLSP from 8:45 am to 11:41 pm on February 5, 2009, at Towson University. This 14-hour-56-minute performance was the longest recorded individual performance until 2022.[3] YouTube and Twitch channel 'AllRequest_Live' performed an adapted version of ASLSP to a live audience for 24 hours, from 12:00am on February 4, 2022, to 12:00am on February 5, 2022.[4] Stephen Whittington performed an 8-hour version of ASLSP on the Elder Hall organ for John Cage Day in 2012 at the University of Adelaide.[5][6][7][8] Organists Patrick Wedd, Adrian Foster, and Alex Ross gave a 12-hour team performance at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, in 2015. Composer Frank Felice orchestrated and recorded an electronic realization in 2015–2016 for a performance that was delivered online to an iPhone app for ArtsFest 2016 at Butler University. A thirty-five second snippet was posted each day for a year; the whole three and a half hour realization was played as a fixed media piece during the three-day Artsfest.[9] Daniel Cooper gave a 12-hour performance in Knox Church to mark the Southern Hemisphere's winter solstice in 2019.[10] Christopher Anderson gave a 16-hour performance, currently the second slowest performance and longest complete performance on record, on March 8, 2022, at Perkins Chapel on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Starting at 5:00 P.M. January 29, 2023, and finishing at around 5:00 P.M. January 30, Alexander Meszler completed a 24-hour solo performance of the complete work on the Hendrickson organ in the Sundt Organ Studio at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.[11]

Halberstadt performance[edit]

The bellows used for the Halberstadt performance.
The organ used for the Halberstadt performance.

Background[edit]

Musicians and philosophers discussed Cage's instruction to play "as slow as possible" at a conference in 1997, because a properly maintained pipe organ could sound indefinitely. The John Cage Organ Foundation Halberstadt decided to play the piece for 639 years, to mark the time between the first documented permanent organ installation in Halberstadt Cathedral, in 1361, and the originally proposed start date of 2000. Because of a lack of money, the date was postponed by one year.[12] The chord changes of the first part which ends in 2072 were calculated by Christoph Bossert and Rainer O. Neugebauer. Until August 2021 the Foundation sold plaques commemorating the years through 2640 to fund the performance.[13][14]

The instrument[edit]

An organ was built specifically for the performance.[15] It is in the church's right transept, with the bellows in the left transept.

Until 2011 Acrylic glass encased it to reduce the volume.[16]

Performance[edit]

The Halberstadt performance started on September 5, 2001, with a rest lasting until February 5, 2003, when the first pipes played.[17][18] Sandbags depress the organ's pedals to maintain the notes.[2] On July 5, 2008, two more organ pipes were added alongside the four already installed and the tone became more complex at 15:33 local time. The bellows provide a constant supply of air to keep the pipes playing.[19] On July 5, 2012, two more organ pipes were taken out, and two were in the organ. The note last changed on February 5, 2024. The performance is scheduled to end on September 4, 2640.

John Cage ORGAN2/ASLSP (639 years, part 1: 70 years)[20]
Impulse Action Notes Date Chord
length
1 Begin none September 5, 2001
2 Sound G4, B4, G5 February 5, 2003 518 d
3 Sound E3, E4 July 5, 2004 516 d
4 Release G4, B4 July 5, 2005 365 d
5 Sound A4, C5, F5 January 5, 2006 184 d
6 Release E3, E4 May 5, 2006 120 d
7 Sound C4, A4 July 5, 2008 792 d
8 Release C4 November 5, 2008 123 d
9 Sound D4, E5 February 5, 2009 92 d
10 Release E5 July 5, 2010 515 d
11 Release D4, G5 February 5, 2011 215 d
12 Sound C4 (16′), D4 (16′) August 5, 2011 181 d
Release A4
13 Release A4, C5, F5 July 5, 2012 335 d
14 Sound D4, A4, E5 October 5, 2013 457 d
15 Sound G3, E4 September 5, 2020 2,527 d
16 Release G3 February 5, 2022 518 d
17 Sound D4 February 5, 2024 730 d
18 Sound A4 August 5, 2026 912 d
19 Release E4 October 5, 2027 426 d
20 Sound G3 April 5, 2028 183 d
21 Release D4 August 5, 2028 122 d
22 Release A4 March 5, 2030 577 d
23 Release D4, E5 September 5, 2030 184 d
24 Release G3 May 5, 2033 973 d
25 Sound B3 December 5, 2033 214 d
26 Sound F3, D4 August 5, 2034 243 d
27 Release F3, D4 September 5, 2034 31 d
28 Release B3 October 5, 2034 30 d
29 Sound D5 June 5, 2035 243 d
30 Sound A2 (16′) September 5, 2037 823 d
Release D5
31 Sound A4, A5 March 5, 2038 181 d
32 Release A5 July 5, 2038 122 d
33 Release A4 May 5, 2039 304 d
Impulse Action Notes Date Chord
length
34 Sound D4, A4 December 5, 2039 214 d
35 Release D4, A4 April 5, 2040 122 d
36 Sound D3, B3 January 5, 2041 275 d
37 Release D3, B3 March 5, 2042 424 d
38 Release A2 (16′) November 5, 2043 610 d
39 Sound A3, D4 July 5, 2044 243 d
40 Sound E4 March 5, 2045 243 d
Release A4
41 Sound B4, C5, A5 March 5, 2046 365 d
42 Release C4 (16′), B4, C5, A5 October 5, 2047 579 d
43 Sound C3 (16′) February 5, 2049 489 d
44 Sound D4, A4 April 5, 2050 424 d
45 Release A3, D4, E4 February 5, 2051 306 d
46 Release D4, A4 November 5, 2051 273 d
47 Sound E3, B3 May 5, 2053 547 d
48 Release C3 (16′) November 5, 2054 549 d
49 Release E3, B3 July 5, 2056 608 d
50 Sound B4 August 5, 2057 396 d
51 Sound A2 (16′) May 5, 2058 273 d
52 Release A2 (16′) November 5, 2059 549 d
53 Sound G4, C5, D5 April 5, 2060 152 d
54 Release G4, C5, D5 June 5, 2060 61 d
55 Sound E4 November 5, 2060 153 d
Release B4
56 Sound B4, C5, E5, C6 February 5, 2061 92 d
57 Release C5, E5, C6 April 5, 2061 59 d
58 Sound D4 September 5, 2061 153 d
Release E4
59 Sound A3, D4, F4 August 5, 2062 334 d
60 Release A3, F4 February 5, 2064 549 d
61 Sound A3, A4 January 5, 2067 1,065 d
Release D4
62 Release D4 June 5, 2067 151 d
63 Release A2, A4 July 5, 2068 396 d
64 Release D4 (16′) March 5, 2071 973 d
65 Release B4 July 5, 2071 122 d

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oltermann, Philip (2024-02-04). "'There's a certain madness to it' … fans await new chord in John Cage gig with 616 years left to run". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2024-02-05.
  2. ^ a b Rosenberg, Steve (2008-07-05). "'World's longest concert' resumes". Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  3. ^ "The Towerlight, Fifteen hours at the organ". Media.www.thetowerlight.com. Archived from the original on 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  4. ^ "AllRequest: As Slow As Possible 24 Hour Performance". YouTube. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  5. ^ "Stephen Whittington: Musical Renewal". RealTime. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  6. ^ "News and Events". J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  7. ^ "John Cage Day, Wednesday 5th September 2012". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  8. ^ "John Cage Day Celebrated in Adelaide with Free Concert in Elder Hall". Herald Sun Newspaper. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  9. ^ "John Cage ASLSP".
  10. ^ "John Cage: Organ2 / ASLSP". Music Canterburyn. 2019-06-14. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  11. ^ Weis, Roz (2023-03-21). "Meszler completes 24-hour organ performance". driftless multimedia. Retrieved 2024-02-04.
  12. ^ "First notes for 639-year composition". 2003-02-05. Retrieved 2023-09-05.
  13. ^ Gonsher, Aaron. "A Visit to John Cage's 639-Year Organ Composition". redbullmusicacademy.com.
  14. ^ "Alle Stiftertafeln sind vergeben". Archived from the original on 2023-05-22. Retrieved 2023-07-22.
  15. ^ "Sankt Burchardi Church Organ". atlasobscura.com. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  16. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "5 Min 48 sek von 639 Jahren: JOHN CAGE ORGAN 2 / ASLSP IN HALBERSTADT". YouTube.
  17. ^ "News – John-Cage-Orgelprojekt Halberstadt". www.aslsp.org. Archived from the original on 2021-09-07. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
  18. ^ "the Halberstadt event website". John-cage.halberstadt.de. 2004-11-19. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  19. ^ "One Thousand Hear Change of Note in World's Longest Concert". Deutsche Welle. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  20. ^ "Klangwechsel – John-Cage-Orgelprojekt Halberstadt". www.aslsp.org. Archived from the original on 2021-09-10. Retrieved 2019-12-08.

External links[edit]