Islands and dances and flutes seem to float on Now Is the Time, Saturday, July 19th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Haiku of Basho inspired Edie Hill's This Floating World for solo flute; Elena Ruehr's The Law of Floating Objects is for one flutist multiplied many times. An excerpt from A Floating Island is Matthew Greenbaum's chamber opera on an episode from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, where some are so lost in thought they don't see what's right in front of them.
The Habanera makes us think of Cuba and islands (okay, it's a stretch), and we find one in 5 Pages from John's Book of Alleged Dances by John Adams. Robert Ackerman improvises Havana Special, clarinet and bass, and there's just enough time for an Ackerman encore, Scena.
For the millennium, in 2000 American composer John Adams completed a compelling, large-scale oratorio based on the nativity story called El Niño. Now he's composed a companion piece, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a Passion oratorio mounted with his usual collaborator, the stage director and librettist Peter Sellars.
There's the unlikeliest motion on Now Is the Time, Sunday, October 6th at 10 pm. Kristjan Järvi conducts a live, rip-snortin' Roadrunner, a movement from the Chamber Symphony of John Adams. Singer-songwriter Gillian Welch's dark-edged Americana is on beautiful display in My Morphine, especially in this atomized arrangement by William Anderson of the Anderson-Fader guitar duo.
That leads nicely into the saxophone-and-piano Sleep Without Dreams, a lyrical work of Michael Jon Fink, and Dmitri Tymoczko's early string quartet This Picture Seems to Move. Andy Teirstein somehow combines into a piano trio Old West saloonery and the ecstatic mysticism of the dancing Rebbe, Baal Shem Tov, in Turn Me Loose.
Finally, for solo piano, is Terry Riley's answer to Sarah Cahill's request for music about either war or peace. He was "noodling around" on the piano one night, and his grandchildren asked him to keep playing this one bit. He did; it became Be Kind to One Another (Rag).
Twenty-five years ago today, Houston Grand Opera mounted the world premiere of Nixon in China, the first opera by a young composer named John Adams. Two days later, The New York Times described it as a "coy and insubstantial work" and "hardly a strong candidate for the standard repertory."
John Adams' rhythmically rich re-creation of a presidential trip to Beijing has established itself as a great American opera, a work of “clarity, simplicity, shocking elegance” that “will be around for the long haul” (The New York Times). A quarter-century after premiering at Houston Grand Opera under the leadership of David Gockley, this modern masterpiece made its San Francisco Opera premiere earlier this year featuring baritone Brian Mulligan. Lawrence Renes, whose conducting of Adams’ Doctor Atomic won praise from London critics, leads the orchestra.