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 2011.
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A native of Jamaica, Gavin grew up in a very musical culture and was exposed to a variety of music from a young age. Gavin sang in the boys’ choir and pursued classical piano, but was also surrounded with reggae and Jamaican folk music on a daily basis.
It wasn’t until he came to the US for a two-year stint at an international school in New Mexico that Gavin fully realized his affinity for music. He originally intended to pursue a career in computer science, but an assignment to write a piece of music sparked his interest and eventually led him to pursue multiple degrees in music theory and composition.
Gavin puts most of his creative energy these days into his work as Managing Director of Alarm Will Sound fueled by his passion to create a cultural space for contemporary music and living composers. But he also makes time for an occasional Scrabble game—only the real deal, though, none of these knock-offs like Words With Friends! He makes a tough competitor having memorized all the 2-letter words.
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