The Sanctuary Project
by Roger Reynolds
Excerpt from remarks given by Director Steven
Butler to the December 2007 meeting of the
Institute of Current World Affairs in Washington

“…The late composer John Cage when asked to name his
favorite music would sometimes say the he just liked to
open the window and listen to the outside. Cage was a
playful man and I used to think this was a facetious
answer. But a week ago on Sunday, I think I finally
understood what he meant.

Roger Reynolds, who was Cage’s friend and colleague,
and also our former fellow – a Nolte fellow at that –
staged a remarkable performance of his newest
composition at the great I.M. Pei atrium in the National
Gallery. It was an hour-and-a-half composition for
percussion ensemble, although – with computer
assistance and speakers on three levels around an open
space – it sounded like no percussion performance I had
ever heard.

It was beautiful to listen to, charming, haunting,
sometimes gentle, sometimes ferocious, ranging from
wholly unexpected out-of-context sounds to tones that
were almost melodic but never completely familiar. It was
a work of pure imagination, completely devoid of musical

It required complete focus from the listener, and richly
rewarded anyone who gave that…”