Tuesday 26 April 2016, 8pm

Tania Chen & Steve Beresford & Stewart Lee perform John Cage’s ‘Indeterminacy’

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Tania Chen, Steve Beresford and Stewart Lee bring their interpretation of John Cage's ‘Indeterminacy’ back to OTO after a knock-out performance here back in 2012. Chen opens the evening performing with Jon Leidecker, in a program that explores John Cage's indeterminate compositions "Music for Piano" and his involvement with electronics in collaboration with David Tudor.

“John Cage is funny: this much we know. The deadpan prankster at the heart of 20th-century artistic experimentalism was always about the inadvertent punchline, the chuckle that comes from unexpected disjunction, the relief that comes from reminders of the absurdity of reality, as much as he was ever about any engagement with progress, technology, the transcendent. It's entirely natural, then, that Stewart Lee, who has spent his whole career reaching outwards from the comedy circuit towards the avant-garde, should want to present his work.” – The Arts Desk.

“I don't believe he wasn't aware at some level that the stories in Indeterminacy, when juxtaposed at random, wouldn't produce comic effects. They're a mixture of the pretentiously philosophical and the banally mundane. A disproportionate number of them have a lot to do with mushrooms – not the magic ones, just mushrooms.” – Stewart Lee on John Cage, in The Quietus.


Tania Chen - piano, keyboards, electronics
John Leidecker - electronics, keyboards

John Cage Electronic Music for Piano
duration - 18mins
written in Stockholm, September 1964

Tania Chen Color Fields for Electronics and Keyboards
duration - 15mins
written in San Francisco, February 2016

John Cage Music for Piano 85
duration - 4mins
written in 1962



Stewart Lee - speech
Tania Chen and Steve Beresford -pianos, objects, electronics, etc.

John Cage indeterminacy - 1958

Jon Leidecker

WOBBLY / Jon Leidecker has been producing music under the name Wobbly since 1990, improvising with recordings to produce music which inherently resists the act of being captured. Recent performances deploy a battery of mobile devices driven by their built-in microphones, reacting instantly with error-prone variations on the notes and sounds they believe they are hearing: a tightly-knit orchestra with inhuman reflexes, resulting in structures which the human performer influences more than controls. Your phone is the instrument, and your phone is always listening. Wobbly's live and studio collaborations with Negativland, Dieter Moebius & Tim Story, The Freddy McGuire Show, Matmos, Fred Frith, John Oswald, Thomas Dimuzio, Huun-Huur-Tu, Sagan and Tania Chen compliment live mix media collages broadcast twice a month on KPFA FM's Over The Edge radio program.

Tania Caroline Chen

Tania Caroline Chen is a performance, sound artist, and free improviser. She performs internationally on piano, keyboards, digital, vintage electronics, found objects and video. She creates multidimensional sound pieces for video and live performance and has shown these works in the UK, Asia and California.

Tania has recorded with Stewart Lee, Steve Beresford, Henry Kaiser, William Winant, Wadada Leo Smith, Jon Raskin and with Bryan Day & Ben Salomen in the bands Bad Jazz and Tom Djll & Gino Robair in the trio Tender Buttons. Her solo recordings include Michael Parsons, Cornelius Cardew's Piano Sonatas and John Cage's "Music of Changes". She has recently recorded Feldman’s piano pieces “Triadic Memories” and “For Bunita Marcus” in New York and at KPFA radio in California.


Steve Beresford

Steve Beresford has been a central figure in the British and international spontaneous music scenes for over forty years, freely improvising on the piano, electronics, and other things with people like Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, John Zorn, and Alterations (with David Toop, Terry Day and Peter Cusack).

He has written songs, written for large and small ensembles, and scored short films, feature films, TV shows, and commercials. He was part of the editorial teams of Musics and Collusion magazines, writes about music in various contexts, and was a senior lecturer in music at the University of Westminster. With Blanca Regina, he is part of Unpredictable Series, which produces events and sound and video recordings of experimental music and art.

Steve has worked with Christian Marclay on numerous Marclay mixed media pieces. He has also worked with The Slits, Najma Akhtar, Stewart Lee, Ivor Cutler, Prince Far-I, Alan Hacker, Tania Chen, Ray Davies, Mandhira De Saram, The Flying Lizards, Zeena Parkins, The Portsmouth Sinfonia, Ilan Volkov, Rachel Musson, Vic Reeves, Lore Lixenberg and many others.

Beresford has an extensive discography as performer, arranger, free-improviser, composer and producer, and was awarded a Paul Hamlyn award for composers in 2012. In 2021, Bloomsbury published a book by Andy Hamilton: ‘Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise: Conversations with Steve Beresford’.


Stewart Lee

Highly regarded writer, stand-up comedian and director. Stewart Lee has been described as "the comedian's comedian, and for good reason" by The Times, whilst he has described himself as "fat" and his performance as "positively Neanderthal, suggesting a jungle-dwelling hermit, struggling to coax notes out of a clarinet that has fallen from a passing aircraft". Despite this Stewart has been involved in numerous interesting musical projects and maintains a strong association with the avant-garde and improvised scene.

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