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ONCE (Festival) again

In 1960 a group of avant-garde composers came together in Ann Arbor to present the ONCE Festival, a modestly-scaled, artist-run event that would occur annually for several years and came to have an enormous impact on the American contemporary music scene.

The festival’s founders (see below right) were the superbly gifted composers Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, Donald Scavarda, and the late George Cacioppo, all of whom interacted with Ross Lee Finney, the U-M School of Music’s then composer-in-residence, as well as visiting composer Roberto Gerhard.

The ONCE Festival was hugely successful, as composers and performers embraced the opportunity to have their work heard by their peers as well as the general public. The Festival, which was hosted six times beginning in the early 1960s, had a significant impact on the American arts and contemporary music scene; one of the enduring outcomes was the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

On this 50th anniversary of the ONCE Festival, composers Ashley, Mumma, Reynolds, and Scavarda will reunite in Ann Arbor for the first time.

“The ONCE festivals of music that took place in Ann Arbor during the 1960s, we now know, set in motion a movement in American avant-garde and contemporary music that resonated for years,” said Christopher Kendall, dean of U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance. “The work of these courageous pioneers set the stage for the formation of the Center for Performing Arts Technology at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance 25 years ago.”

This celebration of the ONCE Festival’s pioneering contributions to the American arts and contemporary music scene will include a concert of historic works selected by the composers themselves, and a second concert featuring their more recent creations.

In addition to the concerts, U-M’s Institute for the Humanities will host an exhibition of historical artifacts from the ONCE Festival and a day-long symposium, providing a unique opportunity to explore Ann Arbor’s progressive role in the development of the American avant-garde. In a nod to the past, both concerts will feature 1961 ticket prices.

For TICKETS and information, please click ONCE FESTIVAL


Institute for the Humanities Presents: John Cage Installation: “Lecture on the Weather”

September 20-November 5

Institute for the Humanities Gallery

Institute for the Humanities Presents: ONCE. MORE. Exhibition

October 11-November 5

Institute for the Humanities Common Room


November 2, 8:00PM

Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor

Institute for the Humanities Presents: ONCE. MORE. Symposium

November 3, Time TBA

Rackham Amphitheater, Ann Arbor

Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series: Laura Kuhn: John Cage’s “Indeterminacy”

November 4, 5:00PM

Michigan Theatre

Institute for the Humanities Presents: ONCE. MORE. Exhibit Celebration

November 4, 6:30PM

U-M Institute for the Humanities

UMS Presents: ONCE NOW (see program below)

November 4, 8:00PM

Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor


· Roger Reynolds : MOSAIC (1962) flute and piano (1962)

· Robert Ashley : in memoriam…CRAZY HORSE (symphony) (1963) 32 instrumentalists

· Gordon Mumma : LARGE SIZE MOGRAPH (1962) piano

· Donald Scavarda : GROUPS FOR PIANO (1959)

· Ashley : in memoriam…ESTEBAN GOMEZ (quartet) (1963)

· Scavarda : FilmSCORE for Two Pianists (1962)

· Scavarda : GREYS, A FilmSCORE (1963) performed silently

· Scavarda/Mumma : GREYS, A FilmSCORE (1963) performed with stereo electronic music

· George Cacioppo : CASSIOPEIA (1962) piano

· Mumma : SINFONIA for 12 instruments and magnetic tape (1958-60)

· Scavarda : MATRIX FOR CLARINETIST (1962)

· Reynolds : A PORTRAIT OF VANZETTI (1962-63) narrator, ensemble, and multichannel tape

U-M School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Presents: CPAT ONCE. MORE. Events on North Campus

November 5, 10am-6pm

U-M North Campus (various locations)br>more info

U-M School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Presents: CPAT 25th Anniversary Concert

November 6, 8pm

Rackham Auditorium

SPONSORS: U-M Institute for the Humanities; University Musical Society; U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance

By James Leija

University Musical Society