MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Harmonium in Londinium

First night of the BBC Proms 2017! Tonight’s program includes a world premiere for the opener — Tom Coult’s St John’s Dance — Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the remarkable Igor Levit as soloist, and Harmonium by John Adams, with Edward Gardner on the podium. 

Harmonium is an early Adams work — his first major commission for San Francisco Symphony — and sets poetry by Emily Dickinson and John Donne. Adams recalls:

Harmonium was composed in 1980 in a small studio on the third floor of an old Victorian house in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Those of my friends who knew both the room and the piece of music were amused that a piece of such spaciousness should emerge from such cramped quarters.

Filed under: BBC Proms, Beethoven, John Adams

2 Responses

  1. Tom Luce says:

    And a very fine concert it was. The BBC provided a chorus of around 500 singers and they did the fine John Adams piece “Harmonium” proud. The Royal Albert Hall is one of the best venues for large choral works and “Harmonium” came across powerfully. Clarity of the words was exceptional for such a large chorus. John Adams was preceded by Beethoven – a remarkable performance of the third piano concerto by Igor Levit, and a short but intriguing piece “St John’s Dance” by the young British composer Tom Coult. This was a fine start to the 2017 Promenade Concert series. Britain is lucky to have a public service broadcaster with such a huge and successful commitment to providing fine music.

  2. Christopher Starling says:

    And it was brilliant.

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