The largest Northern Ireland-led global musicians’ collaboration…and no-one is playing a note
On Make Music Day 21st June the organisations Beyond Skin, John Cage Trust and Make Music Day UK with musicians from 23 countries will premiere a special collaboration performance video of the John Cage composition 4’33”.
Make Music Day began in France 1982 (Fête de la Musique). Over the years the idea spread globally with the 21st June recognised internationally as Make Music Day. Make Music Day first came to the UK in 2012 and the number of gigs taking place has been growing year on year. 2017 was the first UK-wide coordinated event with support and funding from national organisations resulting in 147 performances. In 2020, there were 1,739 performances live and online.
4’33” is a three-movement composition by American experimental composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952, for any instrument or combination of instruments, and the score instructs performers not to play their instruments during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements. The piece consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence”. The title of the piece refers to the total length in minutes and seconds of a given performance.
Beyond Skin is an organisation enabling the Arts as the dialogue to assist the development of a more peaceful, equal and intercultural society free from racism & sectarianism.
The 4 ‘33” Make Music Day idea came out of a conversation between Darren Ferguson, founder of Beyond Skin, musician and teacher Gary Coey and music in peacebuilding researcher Olivier Urbain. The conversation was exploring how we engage people of all abilities in music and enable them to experience environmental sounds and sense of belonging in the now with their global neighbours.
“This has been an idea that has gone way beyond what we expected. The video footage coming in is spectacular, some groups and musicians have been able to travel to beautiful and iconic places to film. Visually it is stunning, and you can feel the environment of each place. The starting point of Gary Coey’s video representing Northern Ireland is simply a recording of him in his front room. We were going to film again on a scenic location but then we thought there is something move powerful and moving that an idea with a musician in their own house can trigger a global movement.” Darren Ferguson, Beyond Skin
Complimenting the 4’33” collaborative video is a theme of loss. John Cage was influenced by Zen Buddhism and 4’33” was intended to also be a moment of reflection and mindfulness. Due to the CoVid pandemic the world has experienced loss. Not just in lives but also our loss of touch, connecting with each other and the natural world, our loss of our personal spaces as they became workplaces, and our loss of trade and business.
Belfast is currently biding for UNESCO City of Music Status. This project is a perfect example of the innovative, aspirational and influencing character of Belfast and indeed Northern Ireland as a vibrant diverse & creative music beacon on the global landscape.
The final production will be released on 21st June 4.33pm (UK Time) as part of a Make Music Day online broadcast and will also be available on YouTube and Facebook.
The project has been grant a special synchronicity licence through the Edition Peters Group in association with John Cage Trust as 4 ‘33” like any other professional composition has intellectual property rights.
Additional support towards the project has come from Belfast Music (Belfast City Council), Arts Council Northern Ireland, Edition Peters Group, and British Council.
A full list of participants and credits will be released on 21st June.