This article was written for Londonist.com.
The BBC Proms breaks free from the Royal Albert Hall this week, inviting people on a Music Walk out and about in South Kensington, in a project celebrating 100 years since the birth of revolutionary American composer John Cage.
Ten site-specific compositions by well known composers, including Judith Weir and Dai Fujikura, have been commissioned for the project. The Music Walk can be done at any time (PDF of map here): walkers can download and listen to the pieces on MP3 players as they visit local landmarks, which include Exhibition Road, Prince’s Gardens, the V&A and the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (pictured).
But the Proms is also running a specially curated version of the walk at 6pm on Friday 17 August – sign up here – ahead of the evening concert, a performance of Cage’s music by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The project’s director Tim Hopkins will lead the group. Expect an “element of performance” at each site.
For example, the breezy weirdness of Joe Cutler’s fragmented, remix-laden The Greatest Hits of Prince Consort Road will be performed outside the Royal College of Music with a strange, theatrical cameo from the composer himself (giving no more away). Elsewhere, the music, all of which has been written with location in mind, ranges from instrumental music to pre-recorded sounds, from the atmospheric to the experimental. None of it is boring.
The idea was inspired by Cage’s 1958 piece Music Walk and by his interest in the sounds of the city (he lived in the centre of New York) and ambient sound in general. His most famous work is 4’33″, four minutes and 33 seconds of performer(s) playing nothing at all. The piece was featured in yesterday’s late-night Prom — listen again here.
More information on the project is available at the Music Walk website.