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John Adams at 70 across the season, leading up to new opera

(October 2016)

Adams70VernEvans1.jpg Celebrations for the 70th birthday of John Adams bestride the 2016/17 season and culminate with the premiere of his new opera in San Francisco in Autumn 2017.

This season’s celebrations for the 70th birthday of John Adams on 15 February were launched when the composer made his debut on the rostrum of the Berlin Philharmonic last month for the German premiere of Scheherazade.2. Events in this extensive birthday series include 15 concerts and a planned CD edition, with the baton passing to the orchestra’s outgoing Artistic Director Simon Rattle, the incoming Kirill Petrenko, Alan Gilbert and Gustavo Dudamel. Adams is also featured composer with the Orchestre National de Lyon this season with seven works performed.

London, Paris and Amsterdam all host Adams 70th features including concerts conducted by the composer. The Barbican’s focus on The Sounds that Changed America includes a major Adams strand with highlights including the London Symphony Orchestra in El Niño in December and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Doctor Atomic in April. The Philharmonie in Paris devotes a weekend to Adams on 10 and 11 December including French premieres of Scheherazade.2, the Saxophone Concerto and Second Quartet, while the ZaterdagMatinee series in Amsterdam offers The World According to Adams throughout this season with five concerts including El Niño and Nixon in China.

California, Adams’s home state, reserves its highest festivities for the birthday period itself, with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas’s weeklong focus in February and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s production of Nixon in China in March. The same month sees the St Louis Symphony tour The Gospel According to the Other Mary to Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic perform Absolute Jest at Lincoln Center before touring it to Europe.

Notable Adams opera productions include Peter Sellars’s staging of The Gospel According to the Other Mary in Bonn and Nixon in China at the Royal Swedish Opera and Houston Grand Opera. The grand finale of the Adams 70th year is promised with the world premiere of his Girls of the Golden West staged by San Francisco Opera in November 2017. The new two-act opera is set during the 1850s California Gold Rush with libretto and production by Peter Sellars. A tantalising five-minute orchestral taster, Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance, was revealed to acclaim at this summer’s Cabrillo Festival under Marin Alsop.

For a full diary of events visit

>  Further information on Work: Girls of the Golden West

Photo: Vern Evans

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