9 Evenings + 50

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In January 1966, Billy Klüver brought a group of 10 artists – John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Robert Whitman – to meet with a group of fellow engineers from Bell Laboratories in what became a grand experiment in collaboration. They worked together to develop systems and equipment that the artists could use as integral parts of their creations. 10 months later, in October, the group presented a series of dance, music and theater performances titled 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. 


9 Evenings is now recognized as a major performance event of the 1960s. It was the culmination of a decade of extraordinary activity in art, dance and music in New York, as well as the beginning of a new era in which artists in these fields explored the use of technology in their work. It was, as Klüver wrote in the program for 9 Evenings, “an experiment in the true sense of the word: its results are open for the future”. 


Each of the original performances had strong visual elements and activities that filled the large Armory space. But perhaps more importantly, the collaborating engineers designed an electronic system, featuring portable, battery-driven audio equipment and wireless FM transmission, that allowed the artists to work with sound in individual and unique ways. They could use movement to produce sound – the gentle whishing of Lucinda Childs’ buckets swinging inside Doppler sonar beams or the multiple sounds transmitted from sensors attached to Alex Hay’s body as he pursued the simple action of his piece. Other artists used sound to produce abstract images on a CRT screen, as David Tudor did in Bandoneon!, or the loud BONGS echoing through the Armory each time a ball hit a tennis racquet in Robert Rauschenberg’s Open Score, the sound, in turn, having the effect of switching off, one by one, the stage lights surrounding the tennis court.


In the ensuing decades, composers, musicians and now sound artists have taken sound and sound-generating and -presenting technology in many directions. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of 9 Evenings, we have invited several generations of composers and musicians to perform works of their own choosing. Some of them knew and worked with Cage, Rauschenberg and Tudor, others have been inspired by their work. The artists and works in the series – in all their variety – share an attitude toward exploration and new technology expressed by Klüver in his introduction to the program for the original 9 Evenings: “Technology has, I believe, vast untapped possibilities to give pleasure and to make life more enjoyable.” And in the works of the artists in 9 Evenings + 50, we believe it has.

Julie Martin - August 15, 2016



DRAM is very proud to present the sound recordings from this very special event. The music and discussions presented in this archive represent a magical nine evenings of celebration of the questioning mind. Inside are music and thoughts from some of America's legendary iconoclastic composers such as Alvin Lucier, Christian Wolff, and one of the last public appearances by Pauline Oliveros. These sit alongside performances by the next generation of creative and critical experimentation around the world, in essence paying homage to the past and looking forward to the future.


Many thanks to Iliya Fridman of the Fridman Gallery and Julie Martin for their help in making this archive available on DRAM.


Suggested Listening

Alvin Lucier
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Four

John Cage
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Six

Jacob Kirkegaard
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Eight

Recently Added Albums

Tristan Perich
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Seven

John Driscoll
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night One

Jacob Kirkegaard
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Eight

Pauline Oliveros
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Nine

John Cage
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Six

Kenneth Kirschner
9 Evenings Plus 50: Night Five