The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble
Joseph Kubera, Piano • Ursula Oppens, Piano • Petr Kotik, Conductor
John Cage Atlas Eclipticalis (1961-62) & Winter Music (1957) performed simultaneously
Christian Marclay Shuffle (2007)
Admission: $25 / $15 Students & Seniors | Buy Tickets

Buy a Festival Pass (includes Morton Feldman: Major Orchestral Works at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center) starting at $50.

Patron Tickets & Preferred Seating available through S.E.M. Ensemble office: 718-488-7650 or

In the late 1950s, John Cage started to compose again for large ensembles. What he needed were compositions that allowed him to perform orchestra pieces with only those musicians that were available. He came up with an elegant solution: no general score, only a set of parts performed simultaneously from solos up to the full orchestration and the possibility to play selected parts of the score — any number of pages can be performed including none, according to Cage’s instructions.

Commissioned by the Montreal Festival Society in 1961, Atlas Eclipticalis consists of 86 solos/parts. Winter Music, for 1 to 20 pianists, is dedicated to Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and was initially composed for David Tudor performing with Cage. When conducting Atlas Eclipticalis, Cage always included Winter Music with Tudor.

The minimum duration of 40 minutes, and the grand instrumentation of 86 parts – among them, nine percussionists, three sets of timpani and three harps – makes a complete performance of Atlas Eclipticalis a daunting enterprise. It was not programmed in its entirety until 1992, when Petr Kotik and The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble presented “Tribute to John Cage” at Carnegie Hall, with a two-hour rendition of the work, simultaneously with Winter music (David Tudor at the piano). This year’s performance will feature for the first time ever the complete Atlas Eclipticali s and Winter Music.

Christian Marclay explores sound and image through a process that often leads to composition, audio-visual performance and sound-sculptures. The audio-visual piece Shuffle suggests many interpretations, and the SEM performance will be determined by both the author and musicians. The 75 cards of Shuffle will be distributed among a 75-piece orchestra.