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Santa Monica Library to Present "Lecture on Nothing" Next Month

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

May 5, 2019 -- "I am here and there is nothing to say" begins John Cage's "Lecture on Nothing," which will be performed next month at the Santa Monica Public Library.

Presented by the Soundwaves new music series, the performance by poet Brendan Constantine on June 6 and 7:30 p.m. is part of Santa Monica's first-ever Pride Month, a month-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

John Cage in 1998

The concert also celebrates Cage's ties to Santa Monica, where 90 years ago the Los Angeles native worked as a gardener and lectured housewives on music and painting ("Santa Monica Celebrates Its Ties to John Cage," August 29, 2012).

It was in Santa Monica that the legendary composer, writer and viisual artist launched his performing career at the Santa Monica Bay Women's Club a few blocks from the Main Library.

John Cage in 1988 (Courtesy Soundwaves)

"Cage played piano at that show, accompanying singer Harry Hay, who was also the founder of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay civil rights organizations in the US," event organizers said.

Included in Cage's 1961 book "Silence," "Lecture on Nothing" has been interpreted theatrically and musically by various artists over the years, including experimental theater stage director Robert Wilson.

Cage, who meticulously annotated his scores, texts and performance pieces, prefaced the lecture with a typical set of instructions.

"There are four measures in each line and twelve lines to each unit of the rhythmic structure," he wrote. The reading "should not be done in an artificial manner but with the rubato that one uses in everyday speech."

Constantine "has been recognized for both the 'dreamy abstraction' of his writing and the 'emotional intensity' of his readings," event promoters said.

He has published eleven books of poetry and taught at the Windward School, Beyond Baroque and Santa Monica's Camera Obscura ArtsLab.

John Cage "was one of the most influential and controversial artists of the twentieth century," event organizers said.

"His use of silence, noise, chance, and other unusual sounds and structures had a profound effect in music and beyond, notably in dance, through his collaboration with his life partner, choreographer Merce Cunningham."

The Soundwaves concert series emphasizes artists who appear on the DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music) streaming service.

The Santa Monica Public Library is the first public library to offer this service to its cardholders. Listings of past and upcoming Soundwaves shows as well as sound and video recordings are at

The Main Library is served by Big Blue Bus routes 1, 7, R7, R10 and 18 and provides bicycle parking racks.

For more information, visit or contact the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600.

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