Press Releases

Historic Performances Celebrate Rich Tradition of Fine Arts
at Mills College

Photo Credit: Pieter Kers

Oakland, CA–September 18, 2012 The legacy of fine arts at Mills College will be showcased in two historic evenings combining music, dance, and visual art on October 5 and 6. The 160-year-old campus, highly regarded for its academic and artistic accomplishments, honors two of its most groundbreaking figures: legendary composer and former Professor of Music John Cage and Darius Milhaud Professor of Composition Pauline Oliveros.

John Cage (1912–92), one of the most influential musical innovators in American history, set the seeds for his breakthroughs in experimental music as an instructor at Mills in the 1930s. Oliveros, an accordionist and composer whose career spans 50 years, continues that tradition today. Her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth, and ritual has had a profound influence on American music since the 1960s. She was recently awarded the 2012 John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

The event, marking Cage’s 100th birthday and Oliveros’ 80th, pays tribute to this pioneering duo in an exciting evening of artistic collaboration. The evening features performances by notable talent from the Music and Dance Departments, both internationally renowned for their innovation in the arts. Mills has played a seminal role in experimental music since 1894, and was one of the nation’s first liberal arts colleges to grant a modern dance degree in 1941.

The tribute features Event with Canfield by Merce Cunningham, considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. The piece has been especially configured from segments of Cunningham’s original choreography by visiting artist Holley Farmer and will be performed by the award-winning Mills Repertory Dance Company. Visiting artist and sculptor Ethan Worden will recreate the lighting décor originally designed by Robert Morris for the premiere of Canfield in 1969. Experimental musicians from the Music Department will work with Oliveros to recreate the original score through her prescribed chance method of composition, created by capturing the resonant frequencies of the Haas Pavilion building. Members of the Mills Performing Group and guest artists will perform additional compositional pieces by Cage.

“We are inspired and honored to present the work of these influential artists and grateful that Mills fosters this kind of artistic collaboration,” said Associate Professor of Dance Molissa Fenley ’75.

In addition, the campus will hold two related intensive programs for students: one that examines the role of dreams in the creative process and another that explores Deep Listening, a practice developed by Oliveros that distinguishes between the involuntary nature of hearing and selective listening. At 80, Oliveros continues to make cutting-edge discoveries in the world of sound, embodying the spirit of music exploration at Mills. Oliveros herself will lead the Deep Listening intensive on October 3.

Performances begin at 8:00 pm on both nights and take place at Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall and Haas Pavilion on the beautiful Mills grounds.


Music and Dance Performance
Friday, October 5, at 8:00 pm
Sixteen Dances, Rock Piece, Event with Canfield
Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall and Haas Pavilion

Music and Dance Performance
Saturday, October 6, at 8:00 pm
Cistern Simulation, Variations IV, Event with Canfield
Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall and Haas Pavilion

Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Free parking is available on campus.
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors and non-Mills students, and may be purchased at the door or online at

For additional details, artist biographies, high-resolution photos, and additional information visit

About Mills College
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in approximately 950 undergraduate women and more than 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 377 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and lists it among the top colleges and universities in the West in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. For more information, visit


Last Updated: 6/26/17