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Amy Williams plays Cage's Sonatas and Interludes


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Lasting just over an hour, John Cage’s groundbreaking Sonatas and Interludes is made up of 20 short pieces: 16 sonatas (structured in two-part or three-part forms) and 4 freely structured interludes. There are dozens of screws, bolts, pieces of rubber, coins, strips of plastic, that are inserted into the strings of the piano to create sounds that are reminiscent of percussion instruments (gongs, woodblocks, cymbals). The unique prepared sounds—sometimes combined with unprepared notes—create a breathtaking array of colors. The piece is literally an emotional journey—through the eight permanent emotions of Ancient Hindu aesthetics: the “white" emotions (the heroic, the erotic, the mirthful and the wondrous) and the “black” emotions (fear, anger, disgust, and sorrow). Today’s performance will be played on a set of preparations that John Cage himself approved of (it was given to Amy Williams by pianist Bennett Lerner).

Amy Williams is a pianist and composer whose work has been presented at renowned contemporary music venues in the United States, Australia, Asia and Europe, including Ars Musica (Belgium), Gaudeamus Music Week (Netherlands), Thailand International Composition Festival, Dresden New Music Days (Germany), Musikhøst Festival (Denmark), Festival Aspekte (Austria), Festival Musica Nova (Brazil), Subtropics Festival (Miami), Spring Festival of New Music (UK), Music Gallery (Canada), NUMUS (Canada), LA County Museum of Art, Piano Spheres (Los Angeles) and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Her original compositions appear on the Albany, Parma, VDM (Italy), Blue Griffin and New Ariel labels.

As a member of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, Ms. Williams has performed throughout Europe and the Americas, including the Ojai Festival, CAL Performances (California), Miller Theatre, Symphony Space, Le Poisson Rouge (New York City), Musica Contemporanea Ciclos de Conciertos (Buenos Aires), Festival Attacca (Stuttgart), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), Warsaw Autumn Festival, Cologne Triennale, and Wittener Täge für Neue Kammermusik. The Duo’s debut CD of Conlon Nancarrow's complete music for solo piano and piano duet (Wergo, 2004) has garnered much critical acclaim. Wergo released the Duo’s second CD of the music of Stravinsky in 2007 and their third, with music of Morton Feldman and Edgard Varèse in 2009. Their recording of the complete piano duets of György Kurtag was released in 2015. Ms. Williams has also recorded for Mode, Albany and Hat-Art. She is the recipient of a Howard Foundation Fellowship, a Fromm Music Foundation Commission, a Koussevitsky Foundation Commission and is currently a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at the University College Cork in Ireland.

Ms. Williams holds a Ph.D. in composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she also received her Master's degree in piano performance. She has taught at Bennington College (1997-2000) and Northwestern University (2000-2005) and is currently Associate Professor of Composition at the University of Pittsburgh. An avid proponent of contemporary music, she is currently Artistic Director of the New Music on the Point Festival in Vermont.