John Adams visits

January 28, 2008

adamsellars.jpgLast week composer John Adams agreed to fly down to rainy LA and visit our students. It was a big success. There was an hour of John critiquing live performances of student composers’ works followed by an hour and a half where he discussed some recent music. My chairmanly duties did not allow me to sit in on all the Adams activities but was happy to have had a few minutes at lunch. We shared the same teachers at Harvard. Kirchner referred to John’s “Shaker Loops” and my “Sweet Alchemy” as “that harmonic stuff” with a kind of distasteful look on his face.

John’s body and body movement reminded me of Peter Sellars — kinda gangly with a very young spirit. No surprise considering how much they have collaborated.

It was great to see John nearly mobbed by our students. It was like having a rock star in our midst. The original room we had held for his event was too small. It was hilarious: we kept going from room to room trying to find a place for the growing crowd. We were lucky to have found some professors who were willing to give up their rooms so our guest and his adoring throng could get to work.

In my opinion, John Adams is America’s most famous living classical composer and I am thrilled for his success. It gives our young composers hope that people DO care about so-called Classical Music. He is not only a talented composer and teacher, he is a great guy as well.

[Photo of Peter Sellars (l) , John Adams (r) by Fran├žois Mori/Associated Press]

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