Williams Mix (1952) is a work for eight tracks of recorded magnetic tape directed to eight loudspeakers surrounding the audience. It is the first known eight-channel electroacoustic surround-sound composition. Cage created a score for the work that consisted of a graphic layout for tape recordings made at 15 inches per second, indicating a typology of sounds and positions for cutting and splicing the recordings together to produce the required eight channels.
The method of composition used in Williams Mix was drawn both from Cage’s earlier work with the organization of proportional rhythmic, this composition using the series 5+6+16+3+11+5, and from his then newer method of making decisions through chance operations, via the I-Ching and the Tarot. The choices of recordings to use for Williams Mix were made from six categories: A (city sounds), B (country sounds), C (electronic sounds), D (manually-produced sounds), E (wind-produced sounds, including songs), and F (small sounds, requiring amplification to be heard with the others). Further categories for selection of sounds were based on pitch, timbre, and loudness. In the original design, around 600 recordings were necessary to construct the piece, the work requiring several collaborators, including Earle Brown, Louis and Bebe Barron, David Tudor, and Ben Johnston, in the Project for Music for Magnetic Tape (1951-1953) funded by the architect Paul Williams. This version received its premiere at the University of Illinois Festival of Contemporary Arts on March 22, 1953.
Cage’s score for Williams Mix was not intended to be a schematic for a single predetermined realization, rather it was intended as a compositional plan that could be realized, in a sense performed, by others as well, as long as the categories of sound and the durations of recordings were respected. The realization heard this afternoon was produced by Larry Austin during the period 1997-2001 as the first part of a large-scale trope on Williams Mix entitled Williams [re]Mix[ed].
— Christopher Hopkins

The following statement is offered for In the Arms of Peril:

“As we proceed with our lives, hopes and dreams, and the daily ventures of life, we are at times exposed to increasingly dangerous provocations, threats and serious challenges. For some, the real issue is survival. In this composition, through the use of sonic environments and events, such confrontations are relived with the persistent search for threads of relief, from the shadow of being in the arms of peril.” In the Arms of Peril was completed just prior to September 11, 2001. It was composed, designed and realized within the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios specifically for eight-channel performance presentation.
— Scott Wyatt

All At Risk attempts to share some of the feelings I had when recently reading email messages from a news correspondent friend who had been sent to Iraq to cover ongoing events there. The emails were sent to his family who, in-turn, shared it with me. I have left out the much more graphic moments as I feel the excess gore, pain and suffering would detract from the basic message of this piece. The stress and overall sense of helplessness I felt when reading his emails, along with a better sense of the amount of danger that those in Iraq face on a minute-by-minute basis, is what motivated the creation of this work.
I have intentionally made the accompanying visual presentation minimal, so as to mimic the sense of reading the original email. The audio portion of the piece was created within the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios. Special thanks to ABC News correspondent Brian Rooney.
— Scott Wyatt

Orthogonality was written for Matthew Sintchak in the fall of 1999. The saxophone's motivic material was created by the orthogonal pitch transformations of inversion and retrograde. The tape was generated from digitally-processed saxophone pitches and key clicks which were morphed into a percussion ensemble that accompanies the live saxophone.
— Lawrence Fritts

Within Time Mark (commissioned by percussionist Kathleen Kastner) are specific considerations including a continuum of timbre — thus providing for an integration of electroacoustic and live sounds without the loss of individuality, and spatial disposition - wherein the location from which sounds emanate within the host performance space is also a parameter for composition. Originally realized in 1983 with concrete and modular voltage-controlled synthesis techniques (including much analog tape editing), the electroacoustic portion of the composition was reworked to reduce the inherent analog tape hiss and was then digitally re-recorded in 2000.
— Scott Wyatt

l'Horlage imaginaire is an eight-channel tape fantasy based upon clock sounds. The source recordings for this work emanate from a wide variety of clocks including the medieval astrological clock in La cathedral St-Etienne in Bourges, musical clocks of the 19th century, church bells, and clocks of the present day. Exhibiting both ethereal and percussive sonic landscapes, this work presents my interpretation of the sounds we associate with the passage of time. This work was commissioned by the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB) and was realized in their studios in Bourges, France.
— Jon Christopher Nelson

On a Roll is a work designed specifically for, and recorded in an eight-channel environment and was realized within the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios. Unique miking and channel distribution techniques, along with three-dimensional encoding techniques were incorporated to enhance the spatialization and sonic imaging for the piece. Sonically, the obvious is not what it seems. As a challenge to myself with regard to sound design, the art of Foley was used to create illusions of rolling objects that you may recognize; hence there are no recordings of actual rolling objects until the last few seconds of the piece.
— Scott Wyatt


John Cage (1912-1992) was the most publicly controversial American composer of the twentieth century. Continually radical and inventive, he escaped the confines even of atonality to bring to Western music new experiences in musical color—the prepared piano, percussion ensemble, electronics, even silence, and in musical form—hyper-rhythmic structures, chance composition, and ultimately indeterminism.
Cage’s work in electroacoustic music begin with an early live-electronics work Imaginary Landscape no.1 (1939) for variable-speed turntables playing frequency recordings at different and changing speeds along with muted piano and cymbals. After a hiatus of twelve years, during which he wrote his signature works for prepared piano and percussion ensemble, and developed the use of chance operations through contact with Zen Buddhism and the music of Morton Feldman, Cage retuned to live electronics with Imaginary Landscape no.4 (1951) and Radio Music (1956,) both for multiple radios, and Cartridge Music (1960), for phonograph cartridges used as friction instruments. Cage also worked in the genre of tape music as represented by Imaginary Landscape no.5 (1952) for any 42 recordings, Williams Mix (1952) for eight one-track or four two-track tapes, Fontana Mix (1958) for tape using indeterminate number of tracks, and the grand spectacle of HPSCHD, for up to seven amplified harpsichords fifty-one tapes of computer-generated sound, five thousand slides and several films, all presented simultaneously (1967-69, in collaboration with Lejaren Hiller). Electronics then figured prominently in Cage’s later large-scale theatric works, in particular Finnegans Wake and the Europeras 1-5. In his final, smaller scale works of the 1990s, Cage returned to simple oscillators and the Victrola.

Lawrence Fritts was born in Richland, Washington. He received his PhD in Composition at the University of Chicago, where he studied with Shulamit Ran, John Eaton, and Ralph Shapey. He is Associate Professor and Area Head of Composition at the University of Iowa, where he has directed the Electronic Music Studios since 1994. His music is recorded on the Frog Peak, Innova, Tempo Primo, Albany, and Southport labels. His writings appear in Papers Presented to the American Mathematical Society, Systems Research and the Arts, the Computer Music Journal, Music Theory Spectrum, Proceedings of the International Computer Music Association, and in the forthcoming book, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Musicality. He serves as National Director of Conferences for the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the US (US) and on the editorial board of The Journal of Mathematics and Music.

A native Iowan, Michael Giles received degrees from The University of Iowa in Saxophone Performance and Pedagogy. He has successfully taught at the college level and in the public schools. A diverse saxophonist, he focuses on 20th saxophone repertoire and contemporary improvising forms. He is an active performer, educator, and clinician throughout the Midwest.

Christopher Hopkins (festival organizer) works in music composition, theory and analysis, performance, and applications of technology. His creative and research interests include electroacoustic music, dialectics of historical and contemporary musical forms, phonological description of unusual performance techniques, innovative computer-based musical notations, and tonal analysis of pre-Classical and early twentieth-century music. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Cornell University, where his principal mentors were Karel Husa (composition) and John Hsu (performance), and a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Donald Erb and Eugene O'Brien. His compositions have been performed at major festivals in Basel, Grenoble, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Melbourne, New York, Tanglewood, Toronto, Vienna, and Zürich, with broadcasts over the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Östereichischer Rundfunk, Radio Canada, WNYC, and Public Radio International.

Barry Larkin holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in percussion performance from the University of Southern California. Dr. Larkin participated in the U.S.C. Contemporary Ensemble 1990 tour of France as solo percussionist. As a free-lance artist, he has worked with such performers as Robert Goulet, Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Roger Williams, and others. He is in charge of all percussion activities and directs the ISU Percussion Ensemble.
Jon Christopher Nelson's electro-acoustic music has been performed widely throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America and has been honored with numerous awards including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Commission. He is the recipient of Luigi Russolo and Bourges Prizes and was recently awarded the prestigious Bourges Euphonies d'Or prize. He has composed in residence both at Sweden's national Electronic Music Studios and at the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges. His works can be heard on the Bourges, Russolo Pratella, CDCM, NEUMA, ICMC, and SEAMUS labels. Nelson is currently a Professor at the University of North Texas where he serves as both Director of the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI) and the Associate Dean of Operations.

Scott Wyatt, composer and Professor of Composition, is the director of the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios, and among other honors that he has received, he was one of the winners of the International Society for Contemporary Music National Composers Competition of 1978, the National Flute Association's 1979 Composition Competition, the 1979 Concorso Internazionale Luigi Russolo Composition Competition in Italy, the 1984 International Confederation of Electro-Acoustic Music GRAND PRIZE at the 12th annual International Electro-Acoustic Music competition in Bourges, France and a finalist in the 1989 International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition in Bourges, France. He was the 1990 recipient of an Arnold Beckman Research Award for the development of digital timescaling applications, and among others, several 1996-2003 grants for the development of a specific compositional and live performance methodology for use with multi-channel sound diffusion and projection. His current research is on the development and application of positional three-dimensional audio imaging for multi-channel audio. He served as president of SEAMUS from 1989 until 1996, and he continues to serve on its Board of Directors. His compositions are recorded on CENTAUR, GMEB Cultures Electroniques Series, Library of Congress, MARK, OFFICE, SEAMUS, UBRES and VERIATZA recordings.

Back to Program

Back to Festival Home