London-based pianist Annie Yim is the founder of MusicArt, a conceptual concert series which combines music with poetry and visual arts, creating unexpected and thought-provoking connections and dialogues between the works in the programmes and across creative disciplines. Her innovative concerts, often presented in collaboration with other artists, multiply artistic roles and dissolve boundaries across media.
Yim’s forthcoming MusicArt event, ‘Conceptual Concert In Three Acts’, features a world premiere concert-installation with composer Raymond Yiu and poet Kayo Chingonyi as well as piano music and spoken words by maverick composer John Cage. The performance takes place in the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac London, which is showing a new exhibition of American artist Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Spreads’ and ‘Ryoanji’, an installation by John Cage, Rauschenberg’s close friend and long-time creative mentor and collaborator. The Conceptual Concert takes its inspiration from the art and life of Rauschenberg and Cage, and pays homage to their work and joint creative impulses through music and words.
Yim said: ‘The specially composed concert-installation inspired by the work of Rauschenberg and Cage focuses on dialogues – musical and spoken, historical and contemporary, space and time, visual and aural interactions. Intended to be cumulative and cyclical, this new composition comprises unexpected combinations of influences and traditions, uncovering themes in Rauschenberg’s Spreads that have been incorporated into our process.’
In Rauschenberg’s work content is often ambiguous. His Spreads series comprise wooden panels to which he variously applied acrylic paint, paper and fabric collage, solvent-transferred images, coloured or mirrored plastics and everyday objects such as fans, pillows, buckets and lights, and thus blurred the distinctions between different media such as photography, painting, printing and sculpture by combining them all in one work. Taking inspiration from Rauschenberg’s artistic process and collaborative spirit, together with his exploration of layering, fragments, memory, resonances and integration, Yim and her co-collaborators interweave music and words, blurring the boundaries between traditional roles of musician, composer and poet. Like Rauschenberg’s work, these ‘sound events’ suggest several narrative outcomes or associations to the listener or viewer.
Cage too blurred and pushed boundaries, challenging preconceived notions of how music should be presented in performance and questioning what actually constitutes ‘music’ and ‘sound’. His Winter Music, dedicated to Robert Rauschenberg and included in this concert, utilises musical collage, chance and indeterminacy, leaving decisions about the presentation of the music to the performer. His infamous 4’33”, which concludes Annie’s programme, was directly inspired by Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, whose seemingly blank canvasses change depending on the light conditions of the rooms in which they are hung. 4’33 is, in effect, an ‘aural blank canvas’, reflecting the ever-changing ambient sounds surrounding each performance, and onto which performers and audience may place their own interpretation and responses, complementing Rauschenberg’s contention that an artwork is incomplete without the presence of the viewer (or audience). The audience will be invited to participate during Annie’s performance of 4’33”, further confirming Rauschenberg’s assertion.
Presented in collaboration with MusicArt, Thursday 13th December 2018, 6.30pm at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Ely House, 37 Dover Street, London W1S 4NJ. Admission free.
© Frances Wilson, November 2018
Frances Wilson is a pianist, music reviewer and writer on classical music and pianism as The Cross-Eyed Pianist