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Music graduate student Joshua Addison blogs about John Cale concert

October 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments

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What first strikes me about John Cale as he comes onstage is his hair. A full rainbow of color sits atop his head. And these colorful locks bestow an unearthly quality to an otherwise unassuming figure. Having acknowledged our applause in kind, soft-spoken words, he bangs out a D minor chord at the keyboard and the orchestra begins to tune.

After microphone levels have been established, rehearsal proceeds rapidly?Mr. Cale is business-like efficient in the warmest way possible. Soon we are awash in an endless plain of mostly bright chords and melodies, stopping only occasionally to stumble over a few notes, a difficult rhythm, or a tricky entrance. Rehearsal ends a good hour and a half early. I like this Cale guy.

Much of this music is about groove. Cale?s drummer looks the part; he seems entranced by his own infectious backbeat. As for me: I?m all but dancing in my chair. I can?t help it. How much groovin? is too much? During the concert the audience appears, to me, quite stationary. Does this display of obedient attention reflect a certain reverence for the legendary musician? I feel that bobbing heads and dancing feet would better serve the cult of Cale?at least during the more upbeat tunes. On the other hand, there are undoubtedly moments for motionless enchantment; in Half Past France the expanses of soft blue and orange sound over which the guitar rhapsodizes, raga-like, recall the meditative realm of minimalists La Monte Young and Tony Conrad, Cale?s old-time collaborators. I?m losing myself in the resonance?such is also my feeling as we conclude the set with grand, fortissimo chords and Cale singing the somewhat ironic words, ?sleep?sleep?sleep, Hedda Gabler.?

* * *

At the end of the night a few orchestra members posed for a quick photo with Mr. Cale. During this brief encounter I introduced myself to Mr. Cale, though I regret not having made a proposition to him, and so I?ll inscribe my plea here:

Dear Mr. Cale,

Please take me on tour.


Joshua Addison

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Some student comments about the John Cale concert were:

“It was an amazing experience playing with one of the most established rock musicians of our time. The featured guests were on fire and it was great to meet and hang out with them. I hope to do some more stuff like this in the future.”

— Goni Eshed, MM Music Performance, Trumpet.

?I played at the John Cale’s concert which was an amazing experience that I would definitely never forget.?

–Boryana Popova, final year doctorate student in violin performance.

Tags: Alumni · Composers · Composition · Composition · Ethnomusicologists · Ethnomusicology · Faculty · Music history · Musicologists · Musicology · Musicology · Performance · Performance · Performers · School of Music · Students · World Music · World music

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