MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

John Adams on the Yin and Yang of His Musical Life

My story for the Juilliard Journal on John Adams as he returns to conduct the Juilliard Orchestra next week at Alice Tully Hall. Program details here.

“What does it take to move us from our customary place?” John Adams asked in his commencement speech to the Juilliard class of 2011. “That is what we want when we confront a work of art, whether it’s a completely new creation or an impassioned performance of a masterwork from the past.” The acclaimed composer returns to Juilliard December 10—this time to conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in a program that pairs the Brahms Fourth Symphony with two 21st-century pieces: Ciel d’hiver by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Adams’ own Doctor Atomic Symphony.

continue

Filed under: Brahms, conductors, John Adams

A New Doctor Atomic at Santa Fe Opera

doctor-atomic

JULIA BULLOCK (KITTY OPPENHEIMER). PHOTO CREDIT: KEN HOWARD FOR SANTA FE OPERA, 2018

Here’s my review for Musical America of the new production of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, which Peter Sellars directed for Santa Fe Opera:

SANTA FE, NM—As with any classic tragedy, from the outset we already know the denouement of Doctor Atomic: The world’s first atomic bomb will be successfully detonated in the New Mexican desert at dawn on July 16, 1945—a prelude to the atrocities of its use less than a month later on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Review here:
Doctor Atomic-Musical America-review

Filed under: John Adams, Musical America, Peter Sellars, review, Santa Fe Opera

John Adams, with Strings Attached

JA

John Adams. Photo by Margaretta Mitchell

My new John Adams profile for Strings is now available online:

In the contemporary music world, writing opera tends to generate the sexiest headlines and, at least temporarily, to garner more widespread attention….

continue reading

Filed under: John Adams, profile, Strings

Alice Goodman: New York Times Profile

21ALICE5-master768

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…

continue

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.

continue reading

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.

continue reading

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

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

RSS Arts & Culture Stories from NPR