JOHN CAGE and 4’33”

Maverick Family Saturdays

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These short interactive events, long a Maverick tradition, are designed for enjoyment by children in grades K-6. Admission is free for children and adults.

Author,  Nicholas Day and illustrator, Chris Raschka will read from their new children’s book, Nothing,  about John Cage’s infamous piece,  4’33”.

The premiere of the three movement 4’33” was given by David Tudor on August 29, 1952 in Maverick Concert Hall as part of a recital of contemporary music.

What does nothing sound like? An offbeat history of John Cage’s 4’33”, a musical composition of blank bars, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka. One night in 1952, master pianist David Tudor took the stage in a barnlike concert hall called the Maverick. A packed audience waited with bated breath for him to start playing. Little did they know that the performance had already begun. A rain patters. A tree rustles. An audience stirs. David was performing John Cage’s 4’33”, whose purpose is to amplify the ambient sounds of whatever venue it inhabits. That shocking first performance earned 4’33” plenty of haters; and yet the piece endures, “performed” by the smallest garage bands and the grandest symphonies alike, year after year. Its fans hear what John Cage hoped we would hear: “Nothing” is never silent, and you don’t need a creative genius, a concert hall, or even a piano to hear something worthwhile. All you have to do is stop and listen. Nicholas Day’s text is reverent with a healthy drop of humor, warm and refined; two-time Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka’s childlike pencil-on-watercolor artwork is uninhibited and electrifying, with all the visionary spirit of the work it chronicles. Guaranteed to spark generative thought and lively debate among readers of all ages, Nothing is not to be missed. A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection Contributor

Nicholas Day is the author of The Mona Lisa Vanishes, a middle-grade book of narrative nonfiction about the theft of the Mona Lisa. For adults, he’s the author of Baby Meets World, a work about the science and history of infancy, which Mary Roach called “a perfect book.” He lives in Western Massachusetts with his family.

Chris Raschka is the Caldecott-Medal-winning and Hans Christian Andersen Award-nominated author and illustrator of dozens of books for young readers, including The Hello, Goodbye Window, A Ball for Daisy, and Yo! Yes? He is also a violinist. He lives in New York City.


Maverick Family Saturdays are sponsored in part with support from the Klock Foundation.

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