Mushrooms and music make a magic mix as John Cage is all the rage again

The Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture

John Cage had a very big thing for mushrooms. An amateur mycologist who helped to found the New York Mycological Society, the composer appeared in a mushroom contest on Italian TV in the 1950s and supplied a New York restaurant with the edible fungi.

A special performance at the Barbican Art Gallery in London will mark this peculiar passion.

As part of a John Cage evening, in which a trio of musicians interprets his works, a new version of “ Fontana Mix” will include sounds derived from bioelectrical recordings made from living mushrooms. Susan Stenger, one of three musicians playing on the night, says she invited “sound ecologist” Michael Prime to make a new version of “Fontana Mix”.

“Michael has developed an ingenious technique that allows him to interact with plants, translating variations in their bioelectrical fields into sounds produced by oscillators.” The concert will take place on 21 March, as part of the Barbican’s Dancing around Duchamp season.