MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Alice Goodman: New York Times Profile

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Alice Goodman in Fulbourn, England. Credit Nadine Ijewere for “The New York Times”

My New York Times story on the poet and librettist Alice Goodman is now online:

When “Nixon in China” had its premiere at Houston Grand Opera on Oct. 22, 1987, there had never been anything quite like it. No previous American opera — perhaps no opera, ever — had so boldly dealt with recent political history…

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Filed under: Alice Goodman, American literature, American opera, John Adams, librettists, New York Times, Peter Sellars, Uncategorized

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

Adams & Stravinsky with the LA Master Chorale

My essay for tonight’s program by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. On the menu are some of the great choruses from John Adams’s operas (with brand-new piano transcriptions) and one of his favorite works of all time, Stravinsky’s Les noces.

Filed under: essay, John Adams, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Stravinsky

Happy 70th Birthday, John Adams!

Today John Adams celebrates his 70th birthday. We have countless reasons to be grateful for what he’s already given the world. And he has so much left to say, as works of more recent vintage like The Gospel According to the Other Mary demonstrate.

Here’s a bit on JA’s ongoing relationship with San Francisco Symphony, which gives the Bay area premiere of this masterpiece starting Thursday:

You would be forgiven for imagining a clever director had coached a miniature army of body doubles, or that a music-mad bioengineer had disseminated a few clones: John Adams seems to be intercontinentally omnipresent this season—in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles. This month, when he actually reaches the biblical milestone of 70 (February 15), he is right back home, with his music as the centerpiece of a three-weekend celebration by the San Francisco Symphony.

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San Francisco Symphony on JOHN ADAMS: CELEBRATING 70 YEARS

 

Filed under: John Adams, San Francisco Symphony

John Adams in Berlin

09-adamsJohn Adams has just started his season as artist-in-residence with the Berlin Philharmonic — with a program in which he also makes his debut conducting the Berliners.

BP’s Digital Concert Hall will live stream tonight’s performance (19:00 Berlin time). My essay for the Berlin Philharmonic program is available on the labeled tab here.

Filed under: Berlin Philharmonic, John Adams

Happy Fourth of July!

Filed under: holiday, John Adams

John Adams’s New Opera

Adams-Sellars

© Terrence McCarthy/San Francisco Opera

It’s now official: the newest opera from John Adams, Girls of the Golden West, which during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, with a libretto by Peter Sellars, will be premiered in the fall of 2017 at San Francisco Opera. SFO has co-commissioned the work with Dallas Opera, Dutch National Opera, and Teatro La Fenice.

Here’s the company’s press release:

SAN FRANCISCO (June 14, 2016) — San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company will present the world premiere commission of Girls of the Golden West, a new opera set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, by the internationally-renowned team of composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars. Presented at the War Memorial Opera House for seven performances opening November 2017, San Francisco Opera will announce casting, conductor, design team and ticket information in January 2017 as part of the Company’s 2017–18 repertory season.

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Filed under: John Adams, music news, San Francisco Opera

John Adams’s Extraordinary Night with the Seattle Symphony

JA-SeattleJohn Adams with the Seattle Symphony (photo credit: Chris Bennion)

Here’s my Seattle Times review of last night’s Seattle Symphony concert with John Adams at the podium:

The chance to hear a great living composer conducting his own music is rarity enough. But the new work John Adams has brought with him is rarer still: a composition created in the here-and-now that shows every sign of becoming part of the canon.

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Leila Josefowicz

Leila Josefowicz, photographed by Chris Lee, 5/13/15. Photo by Chris Lee

Filed under: John Adams, review, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, violinists

John Adams Conducts Scheherazade.2 at Seattle Symphony

JA-Sea

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

The cover story of the weekend section of The Seattle Times‘ is my feature on John Adams. He’ll be in town this coming week to conduct the Seattle Symphony in the West Coast premiere of his brilliant new violin concerto/dramatic symphony Scheherazade.2:

Some people feel like they’ve missed out because Mozart and Beethoven lived in a different century. But they’re overlooking the great artists who are in our midst today — composers writing music that is just as meaningful, and just as likely to last.

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Filed under: American music, John Adams, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

A Fourth with Ives

Celebrate American music! And you can’t do much better than Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for this rep.

As Charles Ives impishly recalled about this third movement from his Holidays Symphony :

I did what I wanted to, quite sure that the thing would never be played, although the uneven measures that look so complicated in the score are mostly caused by missing a beat, which was often done in parades. In the parts taking off explosions, I worked out combinations of tones and rhythms very carefully by kind of prescriptions, in the way a chemical compound which makes explosions would be made.

And for good measure:

Filed under: American music, Charles Ives, John Adams, Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony

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