The Festival’s focus on today’s music continues as world-renowned conductor and Festival composer-in-residence/co-curator John Adams takes the podium to lead his off-beat and grooving Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? with the extraordinary Jeremy Denk at the piano — listen for a second “detuned honky-tonk piano” to add its voice. Music Director Peter Oundjian conducts the final symphony by Christopher Rouse, which The New York Times called Rouse’s Sixth “a haunting and profound farewell” true to the composer’s character: “all of Mr. Rouse — contemplative elegy, rowdy playfulness, eclectic homage — is in this score.” In her Tumblebird Contrails, composer Gabriella Smith calls to mind the Pacific Ocean and “keening gulls, pounding surf, rush of approaching waves, sizzle of sand, and sea foam in receding tide.”
Location: Chautauqua Auditorium
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John Adams, composer-in-residence
Jeremy Denk, piano
Gabriella Smith, Tumblebird Contrails
John Adams, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Christopher Rouse, Symphony No. 6
Read this concert’s program notes >
- “At his core, [John Adams] is a master musician, a composer who has managed to live up to the standards set by the greats before him yet carve out a fresh, distinctively American and arguably timeless musical niche of his own.” Read more about 2022 composer-in-residence John Adams in this profile
- “Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? is John Adams’ third piano concerto… He explains that the title “came from an article about Dorothy Day in a very old copy of The New Yorker. In the same way that I first encountered the name ‘Hallelujah Junction’ and knew that I had to write a piece with that title, when I saw the phrase ‘Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?’ I thought to myself, ‘that’s a good title just waiting for a piece.’” Read more
- “Mr. [Jeremy] Denk, clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs,” says the New York Times. Listen to his take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations and more
- “Mr. Rouse — one of the great American composers of our time, admired by audiences and fellow artists alike — had been suffering from renal cancer, and treated the symphony as his final musical statement. He typically signed off his scores with the Latin phrase ‘Deo gratias,’ or ‘thanks be to God.’ But under the final bar of the Sixth Symphony, he wrote ‘Finis’: the end.” Read more about Rouse’s final symphony at the New York Times
- Composer Gabriella Smith: “Tumblebird Contrails is inspired by a single moment I experienced while backpacking in Point Reyes, sitting in the sand at the edge of the ocean, listening to the hallucinatory sounds of the Pacific (the keening gulls, pounding surf, rush of approaching waves, sizzle of sand and sea foam in receding tides), the constant ebb and flow of pitch to pitchless, tune to texture, grooving to free-flowing, watching a pair of ravens playing in the wind, rolling, swooping, diving, soaring — imagining the ecstasy of wind in the wings—jet trails painting never-ending streaks across the sky. The title, Tumblebird Contrails, is a Kerouac-inspired, nonsense phrase I invented to evoke the sound and feeling of the piece.” Hear an excerpt from Smith’s Tumblebird Contrails and read an interview with the composer
- “I love the idea that you say, ’OK, this week this is the world that we live in,’” Music Director Peter Oundjian says of the Music of Today series. “Let’s hear the music that is being written by our contemporaries.” Read our full story about Music of Today