Prominent American Composer John Adams Conducts Own Works in Second Week of Residency with BSO, October 4-6
Adams launches Composers in Conversation Series with Marin Alsop on Sept. 26
Baltimore, Md. (August 13, 2007) - American composer John Adams continues his two-week residency with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra October 4-6 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, making his BSO conducting debut in a program featuring two of his most appealing works: The Wound-Dresser with baritone Sanford Sylvan, and My Father Knew Charles Ives. In addition to conducting his own music, Adams opens the season's complete Beethoven symphony cycle with the exhilarating Symphony No. 7, a work that is said to have greatly influenced Adams' compositional style. Described by The New York Times as "a graceful and communicative conductor," Adams enjoys an established and esteemed reputation as a talented conductor and is regularly invited to lead some of the world's finest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Note: John Adams opens his residency with the BSO on Wednesday, September 26 at Theatre Project with the new "Composers in Conversation" series, an intimate, discussion-style program. See below for complete program information.
Hailed by The New Yorker as "the most vital and eloquent composer in America," John Adams has become an increasingly important presence in the world of contemporary classical music. While his wide-ranging output of both operatic and orchestral scores is often characterized as minimalist, his music is post-modern, fusing the rhythmic energy of minimalism with the harmonies and orchestral colors of late-Romanticism. Like Aaron Copland in the 20th century, his artistic voice is uniquely American, standing out among all contemporary composers for his depth of expression and profoundly humanist themes. BSO Music Director Marin Alsop is a noted champion of contemporary and American music, and has recorded a CD of John Adams' works for the Naxos label (Shaker Loops, 2004). During the BSO's 2006-2007 season, Maestra Alsop led the Orchestra and violinist Leila Josefowicz in Adams' The Dharma at Big Sur, and she opens her inaugural concerts as the 12th music director of the BSO with Adams' Fearful Symmetries.
Considered a semi-autobiographical memoir piece, My Father Knew Charles Ives was written in 2003 and is a series of three brief tone poems - "Concord," "The Lake" and "The Mountain" - recalling memories of Adam's New England childhood. Impacted by the music of the shockingly original American composer Charles Ives, Adams pays homage to Ives' trademark sound palette and his picturesque New England setting, while also including musical references to "the beloved West Coast Sierras" of Adams' own adult life. According to the composer, his father, Carl Adams, who was a talented amateur clarinetist, "did not in fact know Charles Ives. But for a few years and only a little distance to the north, the two Yankees might well have met, and it's not unlikely that they would have become good friends. Both were businessmen by day and artists by night." The resulting work is a brilliant recreation of nostalgic scenes offset by the uncontrolled chaos that is so indicative of Ives' music.
The Wound-Dresser is a 1988 adaptation of Walt Whitman's poem of the same name for orchestra and baritone soloist, on this program featuring the fine lyric baritone Sanford Sylvan, who also premiered the work with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1989. The moving 20-minute masterpiece recounts Whitman's memories of nursing wounded soldiers during the Civil War and evokes a universal statement about the selflessness of care giving and compassion for the dying. Adams has said that the composition was influenced by the death of his father from Alzheimer's disease and the total devotion and care of that "wound" shown by his mother. The Wound-Dresser is considered the darker companion to the "trickster" piece, Fearful Symmetries, which Marin Alsop conducts on her opening program in September.
In December of 1813, Beethoven conducted the premiere of his Seventh Symphony in Vienna as a benefit concert to support soldiers wounded at the recent Napoleonic battle of Hanau. The symphony was paired on the program with the composer's Wellington's Victory, unabashed military music with a massive percussion battery acknowledging the pending defeat of Napoleon. Sadly this concert marked one of the composer's last appearances as a conductor before succumbing to almost total deafness. Despite his condition, the Seventh Symphony is among Beethoven's most optimistic and upbeat. From the time of its wildly successful premiere, the work was noted for its unbridled and dance-like qualities, propelled by driving, insistent rhythms.
John Adams, conductor and composer
John Adams is one of America's most admired and respected composers. A musician of enormous range and technical command, he has produced works, both operatic and symphonic, that stand out among all contemporary classical music for the depth of their expression, the brilliance of their sound and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes.
Born and raised in New England, educated at Harvard, Adams moved in 1971 to California, where he taught for ten years at the San Francisco Conservatory and was composer in residence at the San Francisco Symphony. On the Transmigration of Souls, written for the New York Philharmonic in commemoration of the first anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music, and won a rare "triple crown" at the Grammy Awards, including "Best Classical Recording" and "Best Orchestral Performance." Several of Adams's operatic works, including Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and Doctor Atomic, are among the most successful of our time.
Currently writing a book of memoirs and commentary on American musical life, John Adams maintains an active life as a conductor, appearing with the world's greatest orchestras. From 2003 to 2007 he was Composer in Residence at Carnegie Hall and gave the first public concert in the new Zankel Hall. See www.earbox.com.
Sanford Sylvan, baritone
From Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin and the Passions of J.S. Bach to the operas of John Adams, American baritone Sanford Sylvan displays a remarkable range of vocal expression and communicative power.
Deeply committed to the art of the vocal recital, Mr. Sylvan and his long-time collaborator, pianist David Breitman, have performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, in major venues in London, New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Their recitals and recordings have earned exceptional praise from critics and audiences, including three Grammy nominations for Best Classical Vocal Performance.
Mr. Sylvan has performed with many of the leading orchestras of the world and has developed longstanding relationships with major composers who have written for him, including John Adams, Peter Maxwell Davies, Philip Glass and Sir Michael Tippett.
A Grammy and Emmy Award winner for his role in John Adams' Nixon In China, he has received Grammy nominations for his recording with David Breitman; L'Horizon Chimérique, which features chanson of Gabriel Fauré; Beloved That Pilgrimage, a program of American songs with music by Barber, Copland and Chanler; and for John Adams' The Wound-Dresser.
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1916, the Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout the Maryland community through innovative education and community initiatives.
The BSO made musical history on July 20, 2005, when it announced the appointment of Marin Alsop as its next music director. She inherits an orchestra that has earned great international distinction for its interpretations of both contemporary and standard repertoire under the leadership of former music directors David Zinman (1985-1998) and Yuri Temirkanov (2000-2006).
In June 2006, the Orchestra and Marin Alsop collaborated with legendary violinist Joshua Bell to record John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, "The Red Violin," based on the Academy Award-winning score for the film The Red Violin. The disc is scheduled for release on the Sony Classics label in September 2007. During the 2006-2007 season, the Orchestra and Marin Alsop began work on a three-disc cycle of Dvorák works for the Naxos label.
In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 25 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the new state-of-the-art, 1976-seat Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Md. With the opening of Strathmore in February 2005, the BSO became the nation's only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Celebrity Series/Casual Series: The Composer in His Own Words
Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.-Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, October 5, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.-JMSH
Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. - JMSH*
NOTE: John Adams opens his two-week residency with the BSO on Wednesday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. with the new "Composer's in Conversation" series. "Composers in Conversation" is an intimate, discussion style program which allows audiences to engage directly with each of the 11 contemporary composers featured in the BSO's 2007-2008 season.. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased through the BSO Ticket Office.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
John Adams, conductor
Sanford Sylvan, baritone
John Adams: My Father Knew Charles Ives *
John Adams: The Wound-Dresser
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7*
*Enjoy coffee and light pastries in a casual Saturday morning atmosphere and hear musical classics presented in an engaging 60- to 90-minute concert. The Saturday, October 6 Casual Series program features Adams' My Father Knew Charles Ives and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
Special anniversary pricing for the 2007-2008 season at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is made possible by generous underwriting from the PNC Foundation.
Subscriptions are on sale now and single tickets go on sale August 23.
Unreserved seating for the performances at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall starts at $15.
For more information, contact the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or www.BSOmusic.org.