John Adams in the Spotlight
The Inclusive American composer featured on WNYC in September.
Saturday, September 07, 2002
September WNYC Specials
WNYC will broadcast the New York Philharmonic's season opening program on September 22 from 3-5pm on 93.9FM. WNYC's Margaret Juntwait will co-host the broadcast, as Lorin Maazel begins his tenure as the orchestra's new music director by conducting the premiere of Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, a piece commissioned by the orchestra for its opening week of concerts to commemorate the September 11 anniversary. Also featured will be Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
In addition, the works and influence of John Adams will be spotlighted over several programs: From September 16-21, Evening Music presents some of Adams's most celebrated works in essential recordings. On the September 10 edition of Soundcheck host John Schaefer talks with Adams about the Philharmonic commission, and takes a look back over the composer's thirty-year career.Links:
Evening Music Special: Five Essential Works by John Adams
Soundcheck: A September Requiem
WNYC and NPR present: Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic
Lorin Maazel on Mad About Music
Adams a Hot Ticket on New York Concert Stages
New York Philharmonic
What: On the Transmigration of Souls, world premiere
Who: New York Philharmonic, New York Choral Artists, Lorin Maazel, conductor
Where: Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
When: Thursday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, September 20 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 21 at 8 p.m.
Tuesday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Adams has described On the Transmigration of Souls as neither a requiem nor memorial, but rather a piece in the spirit of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which used a poem by Schiller stating that we are all united by a common bond of humanity. Accordingly, Adams's text avoids lofty poetic verses in favor of a more everyday language, much of it drawn from missing-persons flyers and the names of those killed in the attack. It includes simple messages such as "Remember" and "Please don't ever forget me." While those words are performed by an onstage chorus, the work also includes a pre-recorded recitation of victim's names interwoven with sounds of the city. It's clear Adams did his homework within the short amount of time he had to complete this work, as he reportedly came to New York, visited Ground Zero, and met with policemen and widows of fallen firefighters. For the New York Philharmonic, the commission may signal some continuation of the social awareness that Kurt Masur brought to that ensemble in his decade as music director. For Adams, this reflects a growing interest in orchestral works. More information can be found at the Philharmonic's special Online feature at www.newyorkphilharmonic.org/adams as well as at Andante.com.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
What: John Adams: An American Master
Who: Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Juilliard Orchestra, others
Where: Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music
When: March 20-May 17, 2003
In addition to the New York Philharmonic premiere, Lincoln Center's Great Performers series (which co-commissioned "Transmigration") will mount an extensive Adams retrospective in the spring. The nine-event series will be highlighted by the New York premiere of his oratorio El Niño at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Directed by stage maverick Peter Sellars, the work will be performed by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and feature soprano Dawn Upshaw, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and baritone Willard White. Other series highlights include the world premiere of Guide to Strange Places (choreographed by Peter Martins for the New York City Ballet) and several of Adam' seminal orchestral works performed by the London Sinfonietta and the Juilliard Orchestra. For more information visit the Lincoln Center Web site.
Carnegie Hall, 2003
Beginning in September 2003 John Adams will hold The Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall, serving for a term of three years. As holder of the Composer's Chair, Adams will work closely with the hall's artistic team in developing programming initiatives and plans for Carnegie Hall's stages, particularly Zankel Hall, a venue which is slated to become a destination for cutting-edge programming, and which will open in September 2003. Expect plenty of performances of his own music as well. For more information visit the Carnegie Hall Web site.
Adams in the Media Spotlight:
The music press has closely followed John Adams's career and provided a window into his life, works, and outlook as a composer. Last November's decision by the Boston Symphony Orchestra to postpone performances of choruses from Adams's controversial opera The Death of Klinghoffer stirred heated public discussion about the difference between respecting an audience and patronizing it. Some critics believed that the opera, about a terrorist attack on an ocean liner, was inappropriate given the mood of audiences and musicians in the aftermath of September 11, while others argued that art is meant to challenge and the piece deserved to be heard. In an interview with Andante.com, Adams himself acknowledged that "Klinghoffer" is an upsetting work, but he argued strongly that it offers comfort in truth.
Adams has also garnered critical attention for several new recordings. The 10-CD box retrospective "The John Adams Earbox" (Nonesuch) was a particular landmark in his recording career, and the focus of an archival edition of NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A recent Nonesuch recording of his 1999 symphonic work, Naive and Sentimental Music earned similarly high marks, with London's Guardian calling it "visionary" and the San Francisco Examiner deems it a "stunning piece of music." Another recent work, the oratorio El Niño, attracted much commentary, including that of Gramophone magazine, which opined, "If not perhaps the unqualified masterpiece acclaimed by some critics‚ this is an effective and often truly affecting score‚ derivative to be sure yet obstinately fresh...Highly Recommended."