Aonghus McEvoy Ensemble performs Cornelius Cardew

Aonghus McEvoy Ensemble performs Cornelius Cardew

Saturday, 9 October 2021, 7.00pm

Aonghus McEvoy Ensemble performs Cornelius Cardew

Online concert
For stream link visit

October 9th, 7pm (Chamber & Solos)
October 16th, 7pm (Treatise excerpts)

“Any direction modern music will take in England will come about only through Cardew, because of him, by way of him.” - Morton Feldman

“Cornelius lived in the future, often far beyond the hearing and sight ranges of most of us”
- Alvin Curran

An upcoming performance by the McEvoy Ensemble will see the first concert dedicated to the music of Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) in Ireland.

Cardew’s music of the 1960s brought together ideas from both the European and American avant garde at the time, influencing everyone from Alvin Curran, Morton Feldman and Robert Wyatt to latter day luminaries like US musicians Jim O’Rourke and Sonic Youth.

On this occasion, composer Aonghus McEvoy convenes a group including Irish musicians David Lacey, Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh, Rob Casey and renowned UK improvisor/ musician Rhodri Davies to perform selections from his experimental period (1960-1970). This will include a ‘chamber & solos’ programme (Oct 9) and excerpts from his famed 193 page graphic score ‘Treatise’. (Oct 16)

Cardew himself, described Treatise as “a cross between a novel, a drawing and a piece of music”. The score offers no guidance as to the number of players or instrumentation. Sonic Youth would record a version for their ‘Goodbye 20th Century’ album, as would Jim O’Rourke on the label hat(now)ART.

About Cornelius Cardew
Born in 1936, this most radical of composers was Stockhausen's assistant in Cologne in the late 50s, having played as much hardcore modernism as he could get his hands on at the Royal Academy of Music.

Later rejecting the influence of Stockhausen, the Darmstadt School and the European avant garde, he became fascinated by the possibilities of free improvisation and the qualities of sound.

In 1966, he joined a group of former jazz musicians already in the process of shedding every trace of the jazz idiom from their playing. They were called AMM and – between them – they would set the blueprint for the British school of free improvisation (along with John Stevens’s Spontaneous Music Ensemble and the Joseph Holbrooke trio, featuring Derek Bailey, Gavin Bryars, and Tony Oxley.

The Scratch Orchestra, the experimental, improvising collective made up of both trained and untrained musicians was founded by Cardew at London's Morley College in 1968. The orchestra’s combination of Fluxus, John Cage, free jazz, performance art, graphic scores, ritual, research projects, serious formal composition, and pop cover versions provided a blueprint for future experimental ensembles.

From 1971, when political discussion became a central concern in the Scratch Orchestra, Cardew became a converted Maoist and this led to his more conventionally realistic, no-nonsense approach to composing.

Cardew even denounced his most imposing pieces of the 60s – the beautifully rendered, 193-page graphic score of Treatise – because they were not politically useful, and did not directly serve the cause of worldwide proletarian revolution.

He felt that the whole avant garde movement was nothing more than a bourgeois indulgence, something he trenchantly expressed in his book, Stockhausen Serves Imperialism.

During Cardew's final years, he composed revolutionary songs and piano music including ‘Revolution Is the Main Trend in the World Today’. Cardew intended this piece to contribute to the downfall of capitalist imperialism.

He tragically died, in a still-unsolved hit & run accident in London in 1981.

**This concert is kindly supported by The Arts Council**

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Added by October Nights on 25 September 2021

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