John Adams

Friday, April 20, 2012 | 8:00 pm
Chapel of the Holy Innocents | Bard College
Free and open to the public

As the iconic and ever-youthful American composer John Adams celebrates his 65th birthday in 2012, his music continues to provide description and meaning to the very fabric of our lives. He is one of the most respected and influential figures in today’s musical scene, producing music of remarkable emotional depth that connects to people from all walks of life. With three exhilarating works from Adams’ recent output for small and medium performing forces, this exciting program showcases his unique musical voice of unrestrained eclecticism.

With sardonic humor, prairie folksiness, and an incredible emotional directness,Gnarly Buttons, a zany and high-flying romp for solo clarinet and chamber ensemble opens this program. Composer and deft clarinetist Conor Brown joins us to bring this piece to life. Called “dangerously exhilarating” by the Financial TimesSon of Chamber Symphony is a vibrant rush of airborne riffs and rhythmic edginess. These two works represent Adams the trickster: the fast-moving and joy-riding music of someone who can twist and contort sound at will, pulling the audience along an emotional journey like a puppeteer.

The culmination of our program is Adams’ recent String Quartet, alternatively an intense and intimate work, sending its musicians acrobatically across their instruments in a frenzied but brooding piece of absolute music, itself its own organism, forming and reforming as it moves through time. With its immense emotional palate, the sprawling first movement is musically all-encompassing, while the second and final movement features an electrifyingly inexorable drive to a climactic conclusion.

Program:

John Adams (b. 1947):

Gnarly Buttons (1996) — Conor Brown, solo clarinet
Son of Chamber Symphony (2007)

— Intermission —

String Quartet (2008)