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Museum opens for a musical marathon

A complete performance of Vexations at National Museum Cardiff

In 1969, a group of 10 students performed one of the earliest documented performances of Vexations - a historically important yet bizarre composition - in the window of Cranes Music Shop in Bangor.

40 years later, six of the original 10 will be re-living that performance at a special event at National Museum Cardiff, organized in conjunction with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama from 7am on Saturday 20 June 2009.

Vexations, by Erik Satie, is a musical piece for keyboard made up from a theme and short chordal passage the composer suggests is played ‘840 times in succession.' The group of 1969 took 21 hours to complete the piece.

Over the past year, 6 of the original 10 Bangor performers have been tracked down and they, together with other volunteers, will be attempting to finish the performance by midnight this Saturday in one of the Museum's art galleries.

Among the musicians performing will be Gwyn Williams, Creative Programmer for Wales, London 2012; Roger Butler, Head of Electroacoustic Music, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; Pwyll ap Siôn, Composer; and Bryony Dawkes, Curator, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

Vexations can be described as a work of art in itself and will be played in the Artistic Uprisings: French and Impressionist Art gallery among the paintings produced in Satie's Paris of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"This event takes place as part of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales's year of music," said Mike Tooby, the Museum's Director of Learning and Programmes. "Taking advantage of our music theme, we are introducing visitors to new ways of looking at, listening to and learning about our collections."

in conjunction with the event, Mike Tooby and Curator Bryony Dawkes will be hosting talks at 1.05pm and 7.05pm about Erik Satie, Vexations and its influences. They will give visitors an opportunity to voice their opinions on whether Vexations is an artwork, a significant development to the way music is composed or just strange!

This occasion has also been inspired by John Cale's presence at Venice Biennale. Cale, a founder member of the Velvet Underground, was one of 12 musicians who took part in the first public performance of Vexations, organized by the composer John Cage at the Pocket Theatre in New York City in September 1963.

Admission to National Museum Cardiff and to the performance is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government. The Museum will be open from 7am until the piece finishes.

Amgueddfa Cymru operates seven national museums across Wales. These are National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.


For further information, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer on (029) 2057 3185/07920 027067 or email