On May 16, 1969, an influential music "happening" did in fact happen, right here in C-U at the Assembly Hall. Called HPSCHD (a shortening of "harpsichord"), the project was commissioned by a Swiss harpsichordist who wanted a harpsichord piece produced with computer sounds. Through collaboration, avant-garde composers John Cage and Lejaren Hiller brought that vision to life, and so HPSCHD was born. As the article about HPSCHD from the U of I website states, through "Five hours of seven harpsichords, NASA slide projections, 52 tapes, and other computer-generated noise breaks down its label as “multimedia” into a compilation of foreign, obscure and almost imaginary sounds."
The 50th anniversary of the original presentation of HPSCHD is coming up, and Urbana's wine bar Analog is here to celebrate the project. During their event Electronic Music Origins (HPSCHD), there will be seven boomboxes simultaneously playing classical harpsichord solos along with original music by Bryce Conrad, a gallery of memorabilia from the original event, a soundtrack/history of electronic music from the 40s to the 60s, a brief tribute to John Cage, several films, and lots of surprises. Get there at 6 p.m. to take advantage of the full celebration, and bring your friends: this event is free and open to all.
You can check out a bit of the HPSCHD sound in this video: