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Creative Chair: Los Angeles Philharmonic


One of America's most admired musicians and frequently performed composers, John Adams enjoys strong relationships with many leading orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic. Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he combines a busy composing schedule with conducting and curating a variety of fascinating projects around his own works.

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“The orchestra glows under Adams’s baton from the enigmatic arpeggios of Act 1 (“The people are the heroes”) to the brittle snap of the brindisi (drinking song) and Act II ballet and the boozy gloss of saxophone and cocktail piano in Act III.” (Anna Picard, BBC Music Magazine, May 2013)

“This skeletally staged concert performance, played to a packed and rapturous hall, had the added frisson of being conducted by the composer himself, in the presence of the librettist, now an Anglican parson. Adams takes a mellow view of his own music, emphasising its instrumental colours rather than pressing on its motor force, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra obliged him with some superlative playing”. (The Telegraph, September 2012)

“Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony was on the programme Adams conducted, along with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, from Peter Grimes - both given with biting, visceral immediacy, as if he were at once laying bare and exalting the music’s imaginative constituents.” (The Sunday Times, March 2010)

“Yet City Noir, given a brilliant European premiere by the London Symphony Orchestra under the composer’s direction, is infused with the seething energies, menace and melodrama of one particular cinematic genre - the film noir. The restlessness, the sardonic relish of urban angst familiar from the hard-bitten tales of Hammett and Chandler seeps through it like a dark stain. But that is balanced by an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration at the dense, random and never-ending tangle of narratives in the modern metropolis.” (The Times, March 2010)

“Adams sets out to evoke the murky world of film noir, and paranoid string figures, stabbing brass, swooning sax and fiddly jazz drumming take us straight back to the Fifties. As the work unfolds, however, the colouring becomes bolder and brighter. Sometimes the music is hard-driven but frenzied activity repeatedly gives way to a musical clearing, momentarily recalling the calm after the storm in Britten’s Sea Interludes, which Adams performed at Sunday’s concert with the LSO.” (Evening Standard, March 2010)

“This was an extraordinarily compelling performance from the London Symphony Orchestra, directed by Adams himself… Adams activated the strong muscle of Britten’s writing: this was a performance less interested in the evocation of misty seascapes and salt-lashed winds than in the sheer power of musical abstraction. Then, within a warmly lyrical performance of Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony, Adams paid generous and compelling tribute to an early and much-revered master of minimalism.” (The Times, March 2010)


The Gospel According to the Other Mary
Nixon in China
Adams: A Flowering Tree
The Dharma at Big Sur
Adams: Shaker Loops
Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony