“If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” --John Cage “There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” --John Cage When it comes to making something out of nothing, few pieces in Western music have been as controversial or polarizing as 4’33”, composed in 1952 by American composer John Cage, a champion of aleatoric music and experimentation. The piece was written for any number of performers in any combination of instruments, provided that for four minutes and thirty-three seconds their performance consists of virtual silence. However, that silence is often anything but. One of the intentions of the piece is that any sounds that may occur, whether it be a rustling program, squeaky chair, coughs, or even confused and agitated commentary, are all part of the performance experience. At a time when critics and audiences discussed the question of where contemporary music fit into the canon laid down by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, Cage shattered all preconceptions by positing that any sound under any circumstance may be considered music. More than 60 years have passed—and this debate is far from over. There will always be vehement disagreements about what constitutes music (and art, for that matter), although the deeper and arguably more relevant question posed by 4’33” is about the role music plays in our society. We live in an age where boredom is instantly cured by smartphones, and life is simply faster, louder, and more complicated. Patience is a virtue on the verge of extinction, and distraction is the catch-all solution to our problems, serving our need for instant gratification. The simple act of sitting in relative silence is downright terrifying for some people, even for four and half minutes. When discussing the role of the composer, Cage remarked, “Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.” Cage’s Zen Buddhist beliefs shape an experience that is inherently inclusive for the audience, since they play just as important a role as the performers. For some this will be the zenith of what music aims to accomplish; for others it will be downright unbearable. Much of a listener’s reaction will depend on why he or she has come to the piece in the first place.
Cello and Piano
Recorded Date: 04-12-2015
A native of Thessaloniki, Greece, Russian-Greek cellist Timotheos Petrin has appeared as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician across Europe, Asia, and North America. A winner of Astral’s 2015 National Auditions, he also captured the top prize at the 2012 New Artists, Techni, and the Filonas competitions. Upcoming engagements include solo appearances with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra and the Athens State Symphony Orchestra, and chamber music performances at Music from Angel Fire. Mr. Petrin has appeared as soloist with the Athens State Symphony Orchestra, the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, the Greek-Turkish Youth Orchestra, and the Kennett Square Symphony Orchestra, and has served as principal cellist of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. He has given world premiere performances of solo cello works written by Riho Esko Maimets, Alyssa Weinberg, Andrew Hsu, and Kostas Tsougkras. Also an avid chamber musician, he collaborates frequently with such ensembles and musical figures and as the Dover Quartet, eighth blackbird, PRISM Quartet, Meng Chieh Liu, Roberto Díaz, and Steven Tenenbom. He participated in Leipzig’s Euro Arts Festival and the Moritzburg Festival Academy, and was featured artist at the Dimitria Festival in 2011. He was also a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) from 2010 to 2013. Mr. Petrin is a Lelia A. Wike Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studies with Carter Brey and Peter Wiley. As part of “Curtis on Tour,” he has appeared at Kumho Art Hall (Seoul), Taipei National University of the Arts, Lee Hysan Concert Hall (Hong Kong), and the Hochschule für Music Carl Maria von Weber (Dresden).
George Xiaoyuan Fu (b. 27 Jan 1991) is an American pianist.
George has been a frequent participant in numerous international and national piano competitions. Some highlights include: First Place, 2009 Blount-Slawson National Concerto Competition in Montgomery, AL; First Place, 2008 National Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in Washington, D.C.; First Place, 2008 MTNA National Senior Piano Duet Competition in Denver, CO; Second Place and Audience Prize, 2007 Oberlin International Piano Competition in Oberlin, OH; Third Place and Audience Prize, 2006 International Institute for Young Musicians International Piano Competition in Lawrence, KS; First Prize, 2006 National MTNA Junior Piano Competition in Austin, TX; etc. George’s many achievements have generated great interest in his performances from various venues, such as the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Lied Center at the University of Kansas, the German Embassy in Washington D.C., etc. George has performed solo concerti with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Curtis Lab Orchestra, Bach Society Orchestra, and Landon Symphonette.
As a composer, George has studied with Carolyn Lamb Booth, Richard Beaudoin, and David Ludwig, and he has won several awards for his solo piano compositions. George served as the 2012-2013 Music Director of the Dunster House Opera of Harvard University, conducting a production of Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon.
A native of Frederick, Maryland, George began piano studies at the age of 5 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University while receiving various musical mentorship from Robert Levin and Federico Cortese. He is currently pursuing an artist diploma in piano performance at the Curtis Institute of Music under the tutelage of Jonathan Biss and Meng-Chieh Liu. At Curtis, he holds a full-tuition scholarship as a recipient of the Bob and Caro Rock Fellowship. George’s previous piano instructors include Carole Kriewaldt, Dr. Scott Beard, Faye Bonner, and Susan Starr.