John Adams

Now Is the Time
11:20 am
Sat December 13, 2014

El Niño

It's John Adams's Nativity oratorio El Niño on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 13th at 9 pm. We'll fit in as much as we can, since the concert-length work is too long for our one-hour show.

Adams says that the birth of his daughter in 1984 was like a miracle. "Four people were in the room, and then there were five," he says, and that became the inspiration for his take on the Christmas story. Along with Latin and English, much of El Niño is in Spanish. The director Peter Sellars, who worked closely with the composer to create this, says that it's like a triptych that cannot be seen all at once. Unfold a panel to see what's there, and you hide another.

Dawn Upshaw, Willard White, and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing alongside chorus and orchestra in this grand Christmas-time pageant.

Read more
WRTI Picks from NPR Music
11:02 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Opera About 1985 Achille Lauro Hijacking Draws Protests At Met

Protesters rail outside the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center on opening night of the opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" on Monday in New York.
Bryan Thomas Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 11:29 am

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among those who showed up at the Metropolitan Opera last night to denounce the production of The Death of Klinghoffer, which protesters say glorifies terrorism.

Chanting "Shame on the Met!" protesters, numbering about 400, said the performance of the 23-year-old opera was an affront to the memory of Leon Klinghoffer, a passenger on the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro that was hijacked by members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1985. Klinghoffer, 69, was shot in his wheelchair and dumped overboard.

Read more
Now Is the Time
5:59 am
Fri July 18, 2014

This Floating World

Elena Ruehr's CD, including The Law of Floating Objects

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.

Read more
WRTI Picks from NPR Music
5:15 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

John Adams' Psychedelic Oratorio Gives Voice To 'The Other Mary'

Composer John Adams.
Margaretta Mitchell

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 10:36 am

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.

Read more
Now Is the Time
5:03 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Turn Me Loose on Now Is the Time

Terry Riley

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).

Read more
Deceptive Cadence
5:00 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

'Nixon In China': An American Opera Inches Toward Classic At 25

The original production of John Adams' Nixon in China (at Houston Grand Opera) celebrates the 25-year mark.
Jim Caldwell Houston Grand Opera

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."

Read more
WRTI Spotlight
4:05 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

San Francisco Opera: Adams' NIXON IN CHINA, Oct. 13th at 1 pm

Mao Tse-tung: Simon O'Neill; Pat Nixon: Maria Kanyova; Richard Nixon: Brian Mulligan

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.

Read more
Crossover
9:42 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Canadian Violinist Angele Dubeau

Jill Pasternak speaks with violinist Angele Dubeau about her newest CD release with her string ensemble La Pieta - John Adams: Portrait - an interpretation of works by American composer John Adams.

Read more