Walker Art Center

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Composed: Exploring Events

Part of Merce Cunningham Across Media, Merce Cunningham: Common Time

At this evening celebrating the musical impact of John Cage and his collaboration with Merce Cunningham, composers John Keston and Cody McKinney demonstrate and talk about the unique musical structure used to create sound for performances of Walker Cunningham Events.

For this short lecture/demonstration, the composers will be joined by program curator Michelle Kinney and University of Minnesota musicologist Michael Gallope. A cash bar will be available.

At 5:30 and 8 pm, immediately prior to and following this program in the Garden Terrace Room, experience the live Walker Cunningham Events performance in the gallery as part of the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time.

Explore the subject further in the Walker Library through a display of documentation from several of the Walker’s historical Event performances by artists such as Cage, Takehisa Kosugi, Gordon Mumma, and David Tudor.

About the Speakers

  • Twin Cities–based bassist, composer, improviser, and sound artist Cody McKinney has been actively composing, recording, and performing since the mid 1990s. He studied jazz and improvisation at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and composition and process conceptualization at the New School in New York. His work straddles “a haunted space somewhere between free jazz and musique concrète,” with hallmarks that include a “liquid mastery of rhythm” as well as graphic and text scores incorporating indeterminacy and fixed time. Some of McKinney’s recent works have been recorded by his contemporary trio Bloodline.

  • John Keston is a composer, sound artist, and developer who connects musicians to each other and their audience through the insertion of a mediating layer that embraces the chaotic ambiguities of environmental and sensorial influences. His music often activates what remains immutable within traditional forms of notation. He has performed and/or exhibited at Northern Spark, the Weisman Art Museum, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Burnet Gallery, Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, the Minnesota Institute of Art, the In/Out Festival of Digital Performance, the Eyeo Festival, INST-INT, Echofluxx, and Moogfest.

  • Michelle Kinney is a dedicated and lifelong improviser and composer, working in nontraditional contexts. She finds much inspiration in cross-cultural and cross-genre collaborations. As musician-in-residence at the University of Minnesota’s Dance Program, she mines the music and kinesthetic information revealed by the body in motion, while accompanying classes with her cello, using a looping station and electronics. Kinney has created several scores for dance, theater, and film, and performs frequently with many collaborative original music ensembles.

  • Michael Gallope is an assistant professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on music, sound, critical theory, and philosophy. Gallope is the author of Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable (forthcoming in 2017, University of Chicago Press). As a musician he has worked in a variety of genres from avant-garde composition, experimental music, and free improvisation to rock music and electronic dance music. Since 2010, he has collaborated with Sierra Leonean singer Janka Nabay, and in Minneapolis, he currently plays with IE.


Merce Cunningham Across Media is made possible by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Major support to preserve, digitize, and present the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection is generously provided by the Bentson Foundation.