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Anniversaries: in search of John Cage's train

In the summer of 1978, John Cage developed an idea of ​​Tito Gotti - musicologist, conductor and organizer of musical events: to create a prepared train and thus transform the carriages into a traveling musical performance.

A specially set up train – organized by the Teatro Comunale di Bologna – will collect its own noises and re-elaborate them electronically for the travelers and for those it will meet in the stations. It will also collect and process locally produced sounds – for example from marching bands, ensembles and individual performers – but also from the normal hustle and bustle of a station”.

Thus it was that between 26 and 28 June of that year In search of lost silence came to life. Variations from an idea by Tito Gotti, also known as John Cage's Train: a casket of traveling concerts that involved the public both on board the train – on the Bologna – Porretta Terme, Bologna – Ravenna and Ravenna – Rimini lines – and in the stations . The train itself, its journey through the marine, Apennine, human and urban landscapes, became an integral part of the musical event thanks to the environmental recordings in constant dialogue with the electronics of Walter Marchetti, Juan Hidalgo and the technical assistance of Oderso Rubini, and the "instrumental, vocal, gestural and visual interventions by Gianfranco Baruchello, Carlo Capelli, Massimo Coen, Esther Ferrer, Gian Felice Fugazzi, Luigi Lanzillotta, Marcello Panni, Cristiano Rossi, Marco Scano, Demetrio Stratos, Enrico Visani, Augusto Vismara, Giorgio Zagnoni”. The Train was thus described in a 1977 newspaper article:

A 20-minute stop is scheduled at each stop. During this time the train will open the loudspeakers like floodgates of sound, emitting the recording of the concert performed in the first part of the journey. At this point the concert will be integrated by a new musical element: that of the parking station. The village band, the church choir, ensembles, small ensembles, isolated musicians, singers, popular dancers (ballroom cross-country skiers will be inevitable), but also painters and sculptors (always local) with their voices, and gastronomic craftsmen with their declaimed specialties, will be assumed with their sounds and noises by the concert in progress, which will record and combine everything, bringing, enriched by the new folkloristic element picked up in the previous station, in the following station”.

The idea of ​​the Treno was born from the Musicircus cageani, which the composer recounts in another interview of the time:

It's very simple: we usually have concert halls designed to keep the music away, free from the influences of all the other music that is out there. In the Musicircus instead of isolating the music, we try to bring to the public as much music as possible all together, in every expression because even the sounds of everyday life are music, including those of trains. (…) Everyone will be confronted with an unfinished, complex artistic product; how to deal with nature, which is often complex; like walking in the woods: there are so many things to look at and if you ask yourself what is the role of those who walk in the woods, you immediately see that everyone can have a different role and their own personal experience.

On 13 October 2018, L'Impero della Luce was invited to participate in the fortieth anniversary of the Cage Train with a performance on board a steam train traveling along the Porrettana Railway route, from Bologna to Porretta Terme. In Search of John Cage's Train. A biodiversity landscape [1-2] was an almost three-hour journey with onboard train performances by:

Verotika, Alessandro Bonino, Alessandro Buggio, Gli Avvoltoi, Electronicgirls, L’Impero della luce, Roberto Paci Dalò, Alessandro Renzi e Zahara Mani (Usmaradio), Michele Selva, Luca Fattori, Tiziano Popoli, Eva Marisaldi e Enrico Serotti (Democratic Psychedelia), Valeria Sturba, Osteria del Mandolino, Andrea Pizzuti, Jimmy Bellafronte (Skiantos), Paolo Bragaglia, Corinto Marianelli, Andrea Biagioli, Ensemble Festinamus, il Piccolo Coro Angelico.

In addition to Oderso Rubini, soul of the train, the protagonists of the 1978 event joined the event, telling first-hand that journey that changed the hearts and minds of thousands of young people.

Here are some testimonies of the extraordinary day of celebration.

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