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UM professors lead a morel hunt inspired by the music of John Cage

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What do experimental composer John Cageand Ann Arbor have in common, you ask? Morels. Story goes that John Cage was something of an amateur mushroom hunter, and he used to hunt for morels in the woods around Ann Arbor.

And since Spring means morel hunting season in Michigan, and many mushroom-enthusiasts are out foraging for the delicacy, a group in Ann Arbor is putting a musical twist on the annual spring hunt.

To celebrate what would be Cage’s 100th birthday this year, U of M music professor Michael Gurevich teamed up with U of M mycology professor Tim James for a new kind of morel hunt.

"I thought, as an homage to Cage, let’s create this performance where we tell stories, which Cage really liked to do, while hunting for edible mushrooms in the woods," explains Gurevich.

Gurevich, James and their students wrote the stories, and in a very Cagean move, the music will be whatever sounds transpire on their walk:

"There’ll probably be planes flying overhead because the sonic environment isn’t quiet around here," says Gurevich. "There’ll be birds chirping, squirrels. We might make some other sounds like whistling or clapping our hands. And there’ll be probably cries of excitement when someone finds a morel mushroom, we hope."

The musical morel hunt takes place atBird Hills Nature Area in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Apr. 14 at 11 a.m. Folks can meet at the parking lot behind the U of M School of Music Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr. for instructions.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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