Music in a state of Fluxus

Jeff Christoff

On March 1, a group of eleven students led by Reid Stratton will perform “A Fluxus Event,” consisting of music from the Fluxus movement. They will perform ninteen pieces from the Fluxus Workbook, a collection of Fluxus pieces.So… what exactly is Fluxus?

According to, Fluxus is an art movement from the 1960s with far-reaching applications in fields including architecture, poetry, politics, and music. The movement was “a way of viewing society and life, a way of creating social action and life activity” that “successfully and somewhat problematically erased all distinctions between art, philosophy, design and daily life.”

Stratton expanded on this definition. “Art installations, factory work, parachuting, and walking your dog are all related,” he said. “More specifically, the Fluxus worked to show that art is everywhere. Basically, whatever you choose to call art, is.”

Stratton was looking through music over winter break when he came across a book of Fluxus music. He was intrigued, and thought that, while he couldn’t perform the pieces by himself, it would be cool and valuable to have them performed. He then contacted the ten other students, who were interested in being involved.

Each piece has a title, along with a direction. The piece “Flute Solo,” for instance, has the direction of “disassembling, assembling,” and consists of “the sounds of the flute parts clanking against each other, the clicking of keys, and whatnot,” Stratton said.

The performance will consist of solos, duets, and group pieces, with each person being involved in three to four pieces. Before beginning work on the music, Stratton sent questions to the performers, such as “What will your facial expressions be?” and “How will you interact with the other performers?”

The ensemble rehearses in a similar way, asking questions to challenge the performers. They will only rehearse about three times before the performance, though, because Stratton doesn’t “want the performers to be too comfortable and complacent about their pieces.”

One of Stratton’s aims in directing this performance is to educate the Lawrence community about this type of art. “This is totally legitimate art/music, but so many people don’t even know it exists, let alone understand it,” Stratton said.

He also thinks that giving the performance will be interesting because it is out of context. “Here we are, forty years after this movement began, miles and miles away from the people and places where this movement took place,” he said. The main centers were New York, London, and Amsterdam.

Besides Stratton, the student performers are: James Hall, Sandy Schwert, Jon Roberts, Emily Zempel, Meara Levezow, Ben Klein, Megan Hamm, Brad Behrmann, John Sutton, and Jordan Webster.

The concert will be held on Monday, March 1 (Dean’s Day) at 3:00 pm in Harper Hall.