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Thursday April 17, 2014
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Steve Rush



looked at the works of Glass and John Cage, not simply as a historian, but as a composer and performer about to travel to Brooklyn to premiere his own radical rethinking of the form: U.S. Grant--A Fluxit Opera. Using a board game to queue random texts from Grant and Gertrude Stein and Civil War songs, Rush combines improvisation and composition to create performances that can never be repeated. To Rush, the pursuit of eclecticism in the defense of invention has never been a vice; he seems to have spent all his life anticipating the twenty-first century.

Rush is a professor like no other. He directs the Digital Music Ensemble. He has written chamber works, symphonies, and concertos that have been performed by some of the world's leading orchestras. He is a virtuoso pianist and occasionally picks up the trombone, melodica, or a duck call.But when I think of him as a performer, two complementary images come to mind. First: at midnight on the last day of the school year, in some obscure place on campus with a piano, people of all ages sit on the floor in a candlelit room listening as Rush performs the complete cycle of John Cage's pieces for prepared piano. Second: in the original Bird of Paradise jazz club the same man, dressed in outlandish garb and standing behind an almost antique electronic instrument, wildly leads a small jazz ensemble through the works of Sun Ra.

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