The piece will be performed by the Tehran Conservatory of Music at the Beethoven Hall of the Iranian Artists Forum on March 7 during a program entitled “A Night with John Cage”, which is being organized by the Iranian literary monthly Bokhara.
“It will be interesting to find out whether there is any penchant for Cage’s works among Iranians or not, and if so, to what degree,” Mashayekhi told the Tehran Times on Monday.
“The performance will provide a great benefit for us Iranians because I think that Iranians are not accustomed to listening to different kinds of music. Every genre of music reflects an aspect of human life,” he added.
Cage (1912-1992) always considered himself an innovator and discoverer in the field of music.
As early as 1937 Cage predicted the use of noise (both intentional and unintentional) and electronically produced sounds in music. His work from this period -- mostly for percussion ensembles, which he expanded to include such everyday items as pots, pans, and brake drums -- is among the first to give noise equal status with musical tone.
In 1938 Cage invented the prepared piano, a standard grand piano that he altered by placing screws, bolts, strips of rubber, weather stripping, and wood between the strings. By changing the sound he turned the instrument, in effect, into a percussion orchestra played by one person.
“Anyone with any ability or any level of skill in playing can get something out of Cage’s music. His works create a hope and a philosophical view toward life. This view is very helpful and we really need that hope in Iran… his music creates joie de vivre,” Mashayekhi noted.
Cage’s credits include “Imaginary Landscape No. 1”, “Credo in U.S.”, “Sonatas and Interludes”, “4'33"”, “Music of Changes”, “HPSCHD”, “Renga”, “Apartment House 1776”, and “Europeras 1/2”.
Through his acceptance of the Indian belief that the purpose of music is, as he put it, “to quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences,” and of the Zen concept that “the highest purpose is to have no purpose,” Cage came to believe that music should “imitate nature in her manner of operation.” This resulted in “4'33"” (1952), a silent piece lasting 4 minutes, 33 seconds, which elevated incidental, unintended noise in the concert hall to the status of art.
“This piece (4'33") has many concepts. He mainly wanted to show that silence doesn’t exist at all, and also to indicate that silence is only a word,” Mashayekhi explained.
It seems that this is probably the first time one of Cage’s works is being performed in Iran since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he said.
However, Mashayekhi has conducted performances of Cage works in many concerts and workshops in other countries.
Mashayekhi has conducted about 10 concerts in Iran since taking the helm at the Tehran Symphony Orchestra in 2005 after the resignation of former conductor Ali Rahbari, who had been convinced to return from Austria to lead the orchestra.
Rahbari was invited in 2004 to reorganize the orchestra, but he later quit because financial problems were left unresolved.
There is still a vicious circle of problems, and Mashayekhi’s patience may eventually run out, too.
“Sure, everyone has a certain level of tolerance,” he said.
Mashayekhi had originally said that he would never give up unless Iranian Culture Ministry officials dismiss him.
“Yet, their indifference to problems is a kind of dismissal. When I have no authority, it means I have been driven out,” he stated.
He believes that the orchestra’s problems could be resolved if the private sector and other public sector organizations were allowed to sponsor performances but doubts he can convince the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to follow this course.