I spent three strangely soothing hours this morning in the company of the Vexations chapter of Make Music NY, reading a little Hermann Hesse on the side. (Vexations, for anyone who doesn't know, is the Satie piece that, in the tradition established by John Cage, is played 840 times in eighteen-hour sessions. I covered such a marathon for the New York Times in 1993.) This Vexations is emanating from a single vibraphone on the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street, right outside the New York Stock Exchange. In the video above, Matt Evans mans the vibes while Sean Statser keeps track of the repetitions by way of old-school technology. Here, Sean plays while Carson Moody counts. Amy Garapic, who organized the event, has handily finessed various obstacles: the permits are in place, the police are amenable, and, on this very hot day, a Black & Decker mobile AC unit is providing relief. Unfortunately, there were several last-minute cancellations, leaving only six performers to cover the eighteen-hour stretch. I am sure that beverages and snacks would be gratefully received. Hint to visitors: there's a cooling downdraft on the steps to the right of the player.
Vexations will continue until midnight; sixteen other marathons are proceeding around the world, as you can see at Vexations Central. (Unfortunately, annoying ads intrude every time you switch from one stream to another.) Make Music NY will get very dense in the late afternoon and early evening: there's Circuit Bending and Humming in Dumbo (6pm-9pm), Alvin Curran's Maritime Rites (Central Park Lake, 5pm), Stockhausen's Musik im Bauch (also Central Park, 7pm), a Philip Glass singalong in Times Square (6:30pm; download the score if you want to join in), Prokofiev's solo Sonata in the many-violin version (Cornelia Street), Frederic Rzewski's Les Moutons de Panurge (Soho), and Wendy Mae Chambers's KUN for sixty-four toy pianos (South Street Seaport, 4:30-8pm), among hundreds of events in dozens of genres.