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German Church Hosts Cage Concert

September 5, 2001

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ A performance of an organ piece by American composer John Cage that is meant to last 639 years began in an eastern German church with 16 months of silence.

The project honoring Cage’s avant-garde work started at midnight Tuesday in Halberstadt and foresees taking the composer at his word by stretching Organ2/ASLSP _ the letters stand for As Slow As Possible _ over centuries.

``We hope each generation will continue the project and as long as there are no more wars or other major disruptions, it will go on until its end,″ Michael Betzle, head of the John Cage Organ Foundation in Halberstadt, said by telephone Wednesday.

``We know that it may sound like a utopian dream, but we believe that it can be done.″

Only the bellows are ready so far on the organ being built for the extended concert in the St. Burchardi Church, 125 miles west of Berlin.

That’s no problem, since the first three notes won’t be played until Jan. 5, 2003. Until then, time will be marked by the sound of air rushing through the bellows.

Three hundred people attended the opening of the concert, which marked Cage’s birthday. He died in 1992 at age 79.

Before the whoosh of the bellows began, other Cage pieces and a modern ballet were performed.

The fifth of the month will serve as the date for all musical changes _ such as going from a rest to a note _ which will be done by an organist. Afterward, weights on the keyboard are to secure the combination of the notes until the next change.

The church is open every day to visitors.

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On the Net:

John Cage: http://www.john-cage.halberstadt.de

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