Alarm Will Sound has teamed up with New York Public Radio's Peabody Award-winning podcast Meet the Composer to create a new kind of album.
Splitting Adams fuses the powerful music of John Adams with the power of podcasts to dig deep and get personal. It does not separate stories about the music from the music itself. Instead, we’re having an on-the-album conversation with you about the music of John Adams while we play the music of John Adams. We’ve made—actually, we’ve composed the conversation to immerse us in Chamber Symphony and Son of Chamber Symphony. Through recorded interviews with the composer, performers, and a historian, we tell the story of the creation of these two seminal works, and of the struggle required to perform them. Then we perform them.
The trajectory from Chamber Symphony to Son of Chamber Symphony is perfect for this kind of total-immersion illumination. We hear John Adams rethinking his approach to composition, and we hear him reflecting on the journey he has made. Along the way, he pulls unexpected inspirations together and pulls Alarm Will Sound into his story. It’s a story just right for the podcast-plus-album we’ve created here.
Splitting Adams is conceived and realized by Nadia Sirota, Alex Overington, and Alan Pierson, the creative forces behind Meet the Composer and Alarm Will Sound.
Alarm Will Sound will bring John Luther Adams’ Ten Thousand Birds to the Toledo Museum of Art on April 21 at dusk and Cuyahoga Valley National Park on April 23rd at 3pm. Ten Thousand Birds is based on the songs of birds that are native to, or migrate through the area in which the piece is performed. The work explores the connections between nature and music, a topic that John Luther Adams has pursued over the course of his remarkable career. Most recently in Sila: Breath of the World and Become Ocean (for which he won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and Grammy) he has portrayed—in big musical gestures—the awe one experiences in response to nature’s grandeur. In Ten Thousand Birds, on the other hand, the source of inspiration is particular birdsongs, captured in minute detail. Adams writes: “In this music, time is not measured. Each page in the score will be its own self-contained world that occupies its own physical space and its own time.
The performance in Toledo is sponsored in part by Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. The performance at CVNP is sponsored in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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This is our world premiere performance at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2012.
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She would have played the cello if she’d had a choice, but her parents loved the violin and put one in her hands before she knew the difference. Courtney grew up in Kutztown, PA and wanted to be a veterinarian. But music took over early in high school and Courtney decided to go to Temple University. Sometimes music school isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, though, and for Courtney, she says she became “un-enamored (is that a word?)” playing the same music over and over while trying to perfect excerpts for orchestral auditions. She tried music theory and pedagogy while at Eastman for her masters degree but went back to the violin for a DMA after getting swept up by the Ossia new-music crowd—maybe being a musician didn’t mean having to play in orchestra after all.
Courtney now lives in Brooklyn and freelances in the city while teaching ear-training for half of every week at Peabody in Baltimore. She never got away from her veterinarian dreams and volunteers at the SPCA walking and taking care of dogs.
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