John Cage’s Reunion brought together the composer’s passions—his friends, experimental music, chess, and art—for an evening of innovative entertainment.
Join the World Chess Hall of Fame for a performance of the piece, which centers upon an electronic chess board that randomly plays music from four musicians as two players move the pieces. Artists Dove Bradshaw and William Anastasi, friends and chess partners of Cage, will play the opening game of the evening as musicians Nathan Cook, Greg Farough, Adaron Jackson, and Mark Sarich perform.
John Cage’s 1968 Reunion was a “reunion” of the things Cage loved most: chess, performance, and music. He used it to reunite and work with the artists and musicians he most admired by transforming a chess game into a work of performance art, with a musical electronic chess board at its center. The content and length of the performance is determined by the pace and moves of a chess game played on this board. Each move triggersthe internal circuitry to play a randomly selected segment of music being continuously sent to the board by one of four composers and then routed to any one of the eight speakers until the next piece is moved. The performance is concluded with checkmate.
From 1966 to 1970, Anastasi was at the forefront of conceptual art in New York with four landmark exhibitions at the Dwan Gallery. It was during these critical years that his “blind” drawings, pioneering sound art, and in situ paintings and displacements debuted. His most recent retrospective, at Hunter College, New York, was Sound Works 1963–2013. Currently the photographs, paintings, sculptures, and abstract drawings of William Anastasi are in many museums’ permanent holdings including those of Mildred Lane Kemper Art Musem, The Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, Kolumba, Museum Ludwig, the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, and the Statens Museum for Kunst. He received the John Cage Award in 2010 and served as Co-Artistic Advisor, along with Dove Bradshaw, for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1984–2011, creating décor and costumes for stage and film. Anastasi, a good friend of Cage, played chess with him daily and wrote of his experiences in The Cage Dialogues: A Memoir.
Dove Bradshaw pioneered the use of indeterminacy in the visual arts in 1969 by enlisting the unpredictable effects of time, weather, erosion, and indoor and outdoor atmospheric conditions on natural, chemical, and manufactured materials. Additionally, she helped develop the Art Science Movement. Among the awards Bradshaw has earned are: a 1975 National Endowment for the Arts grant for Sculpture, a 1985 Pollock Krasner Award for Painting, a 2003 Furthermore grant, and a 2006 National Science Foundation for Artists grant. With William Anastasi, she was Co-Artistic Advisor of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1984 to 2011. John Cage championed her work in his installation in the 1991 Carnegie International and in his 1993 piece Rolywholyover Circus. Cage also discussed Bradshaw’s work for her monograph Dove Bradshaw Works 1969–1993. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, British Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, and The Marble Palace at The State Russian Museum.
As a member of the Close/Far Family artist collective, multi-disciplinary sound artist and graphic designer Nathan Cook runs the experimental music label Close/Far Recordings. He performs solo and actively seeks out collaborations as N.N.N. Cook. Cook recently installed a four-part conceptual sound suite in the elevator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis as part of their Audible Interruptions series. As of late he has completed a performing arts residency at High Concept Laboratories (Chicago) as a sponsored artist for their 2014 winter program. The Wire magazine said this of his latest release, (Bl)end User: “Regarding the latter (analogue electronics), Nathan Cook is a distinctive voice in this crowded field.”
Greg Farough is a performer of quiet and largely static music and is a composer in the oldest tradition. Self-taught in acoustics, the works of Sachiko M and Michael Pisaro have greatly influenced Farough. He holds degrees in philosophy and literature from Webster University and specializes in classical and continental philosophy. Farough’s work focuses on pure waveforms that interact with the natural resonance of rooms to form and slowly transform complex sonic relationships.
Adaron “Pops” Jackson
Pianist, arranger, and composer Adaron Jackson has performed as a sideman as well as with his own ensembles throughout the United States and Europe. “Pops,” as he is known locally as well as nationally, has performed and worked with such diverse artists as Ron Carter, Conrad Herwig, John Riley, Harry Allen, Frank Morgan, Victor Mendoza, Steve Houghton, Clay Jenkins, Tom Kennedy, Kim Richmond, LaVerne Butler, Red Holliway, Ellis Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, Greg Tardy, Slide Hampton, Wallace Roney, and Dave Scott.
Jackson has also toured throughout the U.S. with Grammy Award-winning Motown legends The Temptations, and with I Get A Kick Out Of Cole: A Live Onstage Production. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra has featured Adaron on its Powell On Stage Series concerts as well as through outreach performances. Adaron has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the St. Louis Blues and Heritage Festival, the Smoky Hill River Festival, and the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival.
Mark Sarich is a composer and improviser who earned degrees in music composition and performance at the University of Illinois. Strongly influenced by Morton Feldman, the Wandelweiser composers, and lowercase improvisation, Sarich, a student of Herbert Brün, views his work from the perspective of designs to inform a social change. He works with both acoustic instruments and electronically-manipulated sound in his compositions. As an improviser, his epicycle project invites the audience into an intimate encounter through events “on the threshold of silence.” Sarich is also the founder and Director of the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, which for 20 years has brought experimental musicians and the newest of new music to Saint Louis. Sarich remains dedicated to the notion that music which embraces silence and subtle sounds as well as creates an awareness of the space in which the performance occurs will empower the listener to consider the effect their presence makes in their world.
GM Maurice Ashley
Maurice Ashley lives his passion. Through his love for chess, he not only made history as the first African-American International Grandmaster, but he has also translated his love to others as a three-time national championship coach, two-time author, ESPN commentator, iPhone app developer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. He is now working as a Joint Fellow at Harvard and MIT to bring the benefits of chess and other classic games to a wider audience through the innovative use of technology.
Maurice has traveled the world as an ardent spokesperson of the character-building effects of chess. Coming from the rough and tough streets of Kingston, Jamaica, and Brooklyn, New York, Maurice has tirelessly shared his compelling story with young people in communities around the world. His book, Chess for Success, crystallizes his vision for the many benefits of chess, particularly for at-risk youth, and he continually spreads his message of living one’s dream to universities, businesses, chess clubs, and non-profit organizations across the globe.
GM Ben Finegold
Grandmaster Ben Finegold realized he wanted to play chess professionally in his mid-teens, having achieved his first U.S.C.F. rating at age six. In 1989, Finegold finished in a first-place tie at the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. The same year, he scored his biggest victory to date with a win against Boris Gelfand at the Euwe Memorial tournament in Amsterdam, Holland. In 1993, Finegold earned the Samford Chess Fellowship.
The following year, he finished in a six-way tie for first place at the U.S. Open in Chicago, and in 2002 he finished in a first-place tie with eight players at the World Open in Philadelphia, securing his first GM norm. He won the Chicago Spring Invitational in 2005 to earn his second GM norm and later achieved his third GM norm at the 2009 Spice Cup Chess Festival in Lubbock, Texas. Finegold served as the Resident GM at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis from 2010–2012. He recently launched his own business venture, Finegold Chess Enterprises, with his son, NM Spencer Finegold.
GM Yasser Seirawan
A four-time U.S. Champion and former World Championship contender, Yasser Seirawan was the dominant force in American chess in the 1980s. When he was just 13, he became the Washington State Junior Champion, and in 1979, he won the World Junior Championship. Seirawan went on to win the U.S. Championship title in 1981, 1986, 1989, and 2000. He continued to play in major world-class events, including serving ten times as a member of the U.S. team at the World Chess Olympiad, until he announced his retirement in 2003.
Seirawan was lured out of retirement in 2011 to once again play in the U.S. Chess Championship, which was held in Saint Louis. Seirawan followed the 2011 U.S. Championship with a stunning performance at the 2011 World Team Championship, where he earned an individual silver medal for his performance on board four throughout the event. He is a highly-respected teacher, commentator, and author. He has written several books including Chess Duels, Chesscafe.com’s 2010 Book of the Year.
WGM Jennifer Shahade
Jennifer Shahade is a Philadelphia-based writer, gamesplayer, and commentator. She is a two-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion, author of Chess Bitch, Play Like a Girl, and co-author of Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess. Shahade is also the editor of Chess Life Online at uschess.org/clo and has contributed to many publications including the New York Times and Cardplayer Magazine. Forever in search of new ways to present games, she created roulette chess with Larry List and hula chess and naked chess with Daniel Meirom. You can find her game-inspired video art on PokerFairytale.com.
Jennifer is on the board of directors of the World Chess Hall of Fame and was a commentator and organizer for the 2009–2014 U.S. Chess Championships. She also created the Extreme “X Chess” Championships. Shahade has also performed chess exhibitions and lectured on chess, culture, and strategy all over the world. She is particularly invested in promoting chess to girls and women, both through her books and in teaching at 9 Queens Academies in Philadelphia.
The World Chess Hall of Fame acknowledges Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, whose generous support has made this event possible.
Special thanks to Dove Bradshaw and William Anastasi, C.F. Peters Editions, Nathan Cook, Rob Cruickshank, Fat Chimp Studios, Greg Farough, Paul Hennerich, Tammy Hyde, Iron Man Industries, Adaron Jackson, The John Cage Trust, Laura Kuhn, Larry List, Mike Ross, Mark Sarich, Sarah Robayo Sheridan, Marc Thayer.