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John Adams's Songplay "Ceiling/Sky" to Receive LA Premiere

  • Wednesday, August 20, 2014
    John Adams's Songplay "Ceiling/Sky" to Receive LA Premiere

    John Adams’s 1995 "songplay" I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky receives its long-overdue Los Angeles premiere in a Long Beach Opera performance outdoors at the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles this Saturday, August 23. The piece, which features a libretto by the late poet June Jordan, uses the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake as a starting point to explore race, gender, and immigration issues among young Angelenos. This concert staging of Ceiling/Sky, presented by the LA County Arts Commission 20 years after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, is conducted by Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek and stars Cedric Berry, Bernard Holcomb, Zeffin Quinn Hollis, Andrew Nguyen, Lindsay Patterson, Zipporah Peddle and Holly Sedillos. For tickets, visit fordtheatre.org.

    The world premiere of I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky took place in May 1995 at the Zellerbach Playhouse at the University of California, Berkeley, under the direction of Adams's frequent collaborator Peter Sellars. Nonesuch Records released the first recording of the piece in 1998, featuring Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie, Michael McElroy, Richard Muenz, Angela Teek, Darius De Haas, and Welly Yang. To pick up a copy of the recording, head to the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a free MP3 download of the complete album at checkout.

    John Adams recently spoke with LA Weekly's Christian Hertzog to discuss the piece and why it's taken as long as it has to be performed in the city in which it is set, especially given the continued relevance of its subject matters, and the challenges of composing for the idiom of this "songplay."

    "It called on a different part of my skills," Adams tells Herzog. "It took me a year to write that many songs. ... I understand why great pop artists don’t produce an album more than once every two or three years."

    Read the article at laweekly.com.

on August 20, 2014 - 11:00am
Excerpt: 

John Adams’s 1995 "songplay" I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky receives its long-overdue LA premiere in a Long Beach Opera performance at the Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday. The piece, with a libretto by the late poet June Jordan, uses the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake as a starting point to explore race, gender, and immigration issues among young Angelenos. Nonesuch Records released the recording of Ceiling/Sky in 1998, featuring Audra McDonald, among others.

Copy: 

John Adams’s 1995 "songplay" I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky receives its long-overdue Los Angeles premiere in a Long Beach Opera performance outdoors at the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles this Saturday, August 23. The piece, which features a libretto by the late poet June Jordan, uses the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake as a starting point to explore race, gender, and immigration issues among young Angelenos. This concert staging of Ceiling/Sky, presented by the LA County Arts Commission 20 years after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, is conducted by Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek and stars Cedric Berry, Bernard Holcomb, Zeffin Quinn Hollis, Andrew Nguyen, Lindsay Patterson, Zipporah Peddle and Holly Sedillos. For tickets, visit fordtheatre.org.

The world premiere of I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky took place in May 1995 at the Zellerbach Playhouse at the University of California, Berkeley, under the direction of Adams's frequent collaborator Peter Sellars. Nonesuch Records released the first recording of the piece in 1998, featuring Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie, Michael McElroy, Richard Muenz, Angela Teek, Darius De Haas, and Welly Yang. To pick up a copy of the recording, head to the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a free MP3 download of the complete album at checkout.

John Adams recently spoke with LA Weekly's Christian Hertzog to discuss the piece and why it's taken as long as it has to be performed in the city in which it is set, especially given the continued relevance of its subject matters, and the challenges of composing for the idiom of this "songplay."

"It called on a different part of my skills," Adams tells Herzog. "It took me a year to write that many songs. ... I understand why great pop artists don’t produce an album more than once every two or three years."

Read the article at laweekly.com.

Publish date: 
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 11:00
Article Type: 
featuredimage: 
John Adams: "Ceiling/Sky" [cover]

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