John Cage fans gather to witness chord change in 639-year-long performance
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John Cage fans gather to witness chord change in 639-year-long performance

‘ORGAN/ASLSP’, or ‘As Slow As Possible’, is taking place at St. Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany

By Sam Moore

John Cage
John Cage rehearsing for his Town Hall 25 Year Retrospective Concert in New York City, May 1958 (Picture: Ben Martin/Getty Images)

Hundreds of fans of the late avant-garde composer John Cage gathered in Halberstadt, Germany over the weekend to witness a chord change in Cage’s 639-year-long performance piece.

A performance of Cage’s 1987 work ‘ORGAN/ASLSP’, or ‘As Slow As Possible’, is currently taking place at St. Burchardi Church in Halberstadt. The performance of the piece, which is being done on a special organ which emits a continuous sound thanks to an energy-generating compressor in the church basement, began in September 2001 and is scheduled to end in 2640.

On Saturday (September 5), hundreds of Cage fans and members of the John Cage Organ Project gathered in Halberstadt to hear the chord change, which is the piece’s first new sound in six years and 11 months, as it was made manually by soprano singer Johanna Vargas and organist Julian Lembke.


Each chord change has to be done manually, with two new organ pipes being added on Saturday.

You can hear the chord change here.

The next chord change is planned for February 5, 2022. Normally, a chord or sound change in ‘ORGAN/ASLSP’ would attract thousands of visitors to St. Burchardi Church, but the coronavirus pandemic meant that numbers were down this year on previous instances.

Last year, the likes of Depeche Mode, New Order and Erasure reinterpreted John Cage’s conceptual composition ‘4’33”’ for a box set.

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