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John Adams, the L.A. Phil's other new kid

November 14, 2009 | 12:00 am


What does a renowned, Harvard-educated, Pulitzer Prize-winning classical music composer say just after the standing-ovation world premiere of his new symphony “City Noir” at Walt Disney Concert Hall, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of its wildly celebrated new music director, Gustavo Dudamel?

“That was rockin’, wasn’t it?” says a beaming John Adams.

Yeah, that’s the way “we old boomers” talk, Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. President Deborah Borda, 60, jokes of her longtime friend and colleague Adams, 62. It doesn’t seem to surprise her during a conversation at the gala party following the Oct. 8 premiere that Adams would use the phrase when talking about “City Noir,” a work inspired by Hollywood’s classic noir films of the 1940s and ’50s.

Besides — it was rockin’. The buzz at the Latin-themed post-premiere affair seemed to have less to do with the generously distributed “Pasión” cocktail created in honor of Dudamel’s first Disney Hall concert as Philharmonic music director — an alarmingly sweet combo of rum, pineapple, coconut juice and grenadine — than with the afterglow of the music.

The heady sensation made it clear that 28-year-old Dudamel isn’t the only new kid in town at the Phil: The other is Adams, in his inaugural season as the orchestra’s creative chair and curator of the Philharmonic’s first festival of Dudamel’s tenure: West Coast, Left Coast, a three-week event launching Saturday, Nov. 21, that explores California music. 

The multidisciplinary festival will feature composers and performers long associated with California’s classical music scene, including San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet, composer-musician Terry Riley and former L.A. Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, now the orchestra’s first conductor laureate; Salonen’s “L.A. Variations” will be on the program with “City Noir,” also conducted by Dudamel.

Also on the eclectic list are former Beach Boy Brian Wilson and “The Yellow Shark,” a contemporary composition by the late Frank Zappa that Adams will conduct and describes as “fiendishly difficult.” “Being the cantankerous person that he was, when he composed classical contemporary music, he made sure it was hard,” Adams says, with obvious relish.

To read much more about Adams and the festival, head to the Los Angeles Times' Arts page for Diane Haithman's  story.

Photo Credit: Allen J. Schaben/L.A. Times

Comments () | Archives (5)

democracy is just a word and curated concerts are the fashion of late. instead of selecting works from anonymous submissions with a diversified jury, we have now the figure of the curator.
since the curator is a party of interest in the whole thing, such "festivals" only work in the benefit of the curator.
the list of composers programmed in the upcoming festival, looks rather poor. some concerts are pretty much family affairs, where the featured works are composed by the performers companions.
it's interesting to note that John Adams was careful enough to select a bunch of meaningless works and for the most part third tier composers.
he's bound to be taken as a better composer after you hear his selection.

Contempt art is all inbred now, its about promoting ones own limited group of MFAs and those who sit around writing, obviously this guy doesnt have much of a life. Wow, what a deep and intelligent motif. Impressive.

Herbie Hancock now has the jazz chair there, how come no talk about him? or is what he does, not Music?
Riiiiiiiiight. Another case of tokenism. Southpark lives, in the artsy world of non physical and mentally trapped children. Get out son, the world is out there. Learn it, live it, be it. Academicism can only lead to soft self absorbtion.

art collegia delenda est


Nicely analysed, very well said.

TV shows like American Idol are based on the premise that everybody and anybody has the same chances and talent is the defining criteria, and so, it was/is/will be a continued success in more ways than one. Then, the audience votes. The entire selection process for AI is there to raise the level of the show itself.

Concerts or festivals as the upcoming one celebrate the actual emptiness, redundancy, and irrelevance of the events and sponsoring institutions.

Bring Simon Cowell to the LA Phil and then maybe you'll see something truly new. So far, all you have is the same old same. And it's so old that it smells.

How about a short list of more representative composers?


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