MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

No Joke

John Adams; photo (c) Deborah O’Grady

John Adams; photo (c) Deborah O’Grady

On the road: after being in the spotlight in Madrid for the Orquesta Nacional de España’s Carta Bianca Festival, John Adams is being celebrated this week by the Toronto Symphony with the New Creations Festival. The festival culminates on Friday with one of Adams’s most fascinating recent works, Absolute Jest. Here’s the essay I wrote for the original version of Absolute Jest on the occasion of its world premiere by the San Francisco Symphony and the Saint Lawrence String Quartet in 2012:

More than three decades have passed since the San Francisco Symphony gave its first world premiere of music by John Adams (the choral-orchestral Harmonium in 1981). The event marked the beginning of a longstanding relationship between composer and orchestra that has resulted in the commissioning of several landmark works: Adams’s breakthrough orchestral composition, Harmonielehre (a new recording of which the SFS has just been released), El Dorado, the millennial “nativity oratorio” El Niño, the opera A Flowering Tree, and My Father Knew Charles Ives.

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Filed under: American music, essay, John Adams, new music


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