Five Pieces (after John Cage) – with Phyllis Chen

0:23 – I.) sleepy / early winter morning / stars in the sky
3:11 – II.) sunflower / the bell ring / a bee spreading pollen
7:04 – III.) hiccups / growing up / country mist
9:38 – IV.) the sound of chimes exploding / a blossom floating through the wind
13:32 – V.) waves in the ocean / stars in the sky / pupa turns to butterfly

Phyllis Chen – toy piano (graphic scores, John Cage’s Suite)
Grades 1-5, Zion Lutheran School – toy piano (graphic scores), drawings
Danny Clay – small objects, electronics, arrangement + video

“five pieces (after John Cage)” is the direct result of a collaboration between myself, students (grades 1 through 5) of Zion Lutheran School in San Francisco, toy pianist Phyllis Chen, and a very important work for toy piano. After listening and discussing the five movements of John Cage’s Suite, the students (grades 1 through 5) created their own graphic scores corresponding to a movement of their choice. These scores were then interpreted in a variety of ways – by Phyllis Chen, the kids themselves on toy piano, and myself on music box, toy keyboard, Gameboy, toy reeds, and various other electronics. Among my own material, the resulting collage features approximately 60 mini-world premieres, grouped by the movement that inspired them and paired with their corresponding scores. The titles for each collage were written by the kids.

Five Pieces was commissioned for and premiered at the 2013 UnCaged Toy Piano Festival, Dec. 14th at the Dimenna Center in NYC.