Adams Meet Schoenberg

Posted by Vancouver Opera On 12:50 PM
“I was sitting in my studio, studying the score to Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, and as I was doing so I became aware that my seven-year-old son Sam was in the adjacent room watching cartoons (good cartoons, old ones from the ‘50s). The hyperactive, insistently aggressive and acrobatic scores for the cartoons mixed in my head with the Schoenberg music, itself hyperactive, acrobatic and not a little aggressive, and I realized suddenly how much these two traditions had in common.” - John Adams

This led to the creation of his Chamber Symphony in 1992.

On Wednesday, February 24th Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble will be performing Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony (1906) and the Canadian premiere of John Adams’s Son of Chamber Symphony – Adams’ sequel to his earlier work and a tribute to Schoenberg. Adams’s composition employs the same instruments as Schoenberg’s with the addition of synthesizer, percussion, trumpet, and trombone.

Within this work Adams pays homage to Stravinsky, demonstrates the influence of jazz by incorporating brilliant solo spots for each instrument and “adds one more element to the mix: cartoon music, summed up best by the meticulously intricate arrangements and antic tempi of Raymond Scott, whose brilliant miniatures show up regularly in cartoons.”

Son of Chamber Symphony demands instrumentalists who, in Adams’s words, “are asked to negotiate unreasonably difficult passages and alarmingly fast tempi”. For a taste listen here.

Turning Point Ensemble was formed by its musician members in 2002 to present rarely heard concert music for a large-sized chamber ensemble. Led by co-artistic directors Jeremy Berkman and Owen Underhill, the ensemble’s mandate is to increase the understanding and appreciation of music composed during the past hundred years, linking the music of earlier times to the music of today through innovative programming and outstanding performance.

If you want to learn more about John Adams, check out ‘Inside the Music of John Adams’ on Tuesday, March 2 at the Vancouver Academy of Music with experts Thomas May, editor of The John Adams Reader, John DeMain, conductor for Vancouver Opera’s Nixon in China and Owen Underhill, co-artistic director of Turning Point Ensemble.

~ Jennifer Lord, Special Projects Manager

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