Listen: John Adams Talks with California Festival About His Early Years in the State

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“In many ways, John Adams is the quintessential California composer,” Nadia Sirota writes in the introduction to Adams’ audio interview with the California Festival, a statewide initiative showcasing contemporary classical music, including live performances at venues across the state over the past three weeks. Adams, a resident of Northern California since moving there from New England in 1971, talks about his early days in the area and the inspiration behind some of his most influential early works, like Christian Zeal and Activity, Phrygian Gates, Shaker Loops, and Harmonielehre. You can hear what he has to say here.

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“In many ways, John Adams is the quintessential California composer,” Nadia Sirota writes in the introduction to Adams’ audio interview with the California Festival, a statewide initiative showcasing contemporary classical music, including live performances at venues across the state over the past three weeks. Adams, a resident of Northern California since moving there from New England in 1971, talks about his early days in the area and the inspiration behind some of his most influential early works, like Christian Zeal and Activity (1973), Phrygian Gates (1977), Shaker Loops (1978, 1983), and Harmonielehre (1985)—“the piece that got my name into the general conversation, so to speak.” You can hear what he has to say here:

You can hear recordings of all of the pieces referenced above in forty-disc box set John Adams Collected Works, released on Nonesuch in 2022. The set comprises recordings spanning more than four decades of the composer’s career with the label, plus two extensive booklets with new essays and notes by Timo Andres, Julia Bullock, Robert Hurwitz, Nico Muhly, and Jake Wilder-Smith. Nonesuch made its first record with John Adams in 1985; he was signed exclusively to the label that year, and since then the company has released forty-two first recordings and thirty-one all-Adams albums. Collected Works includes thirty-five discs of Nonesuch recordings and five from other labels. You can get it here.

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John Adams: California Festival, November 2023
  • Monday, November 20, 2023
    Listen: John Adams Talks with California Festival About His Early Years in the State
    Deborah O’Grady

    “In many ways, John Adams is the quintessential California composer,” Nadia Sirota writes in the introduction to Adams’ audio interview with the California Festival, a statewide initiative showcasing contemporary classical music, including live performances at venues across the state over the past three weeks. Adams, a resident of Northern California since moving there from New England in 1971, talks about his early days in the area and the inspiration behind some of his most influential early works, like Christian Zeal and Activity (1973), Phrygian Gates (1977), Shaker Loops (1978, 1983), and Harmonielehre (1985)—“the piece that got my name into the general conversation, so to speak.” You can hear what he has to say here:

    You can hear recordings of all of the pieces referenced above in forty-disc box set John Adams Collected Works, released on Nonesuch in 2022. The set comprises recordings spanning more than four decades of the composer’s career with the label, plus two extensive booklets with new essays and notes by Timo Andres, Julia Bullock, Robert Hurwitz, Nico Muhly, and Jake Wilder-Smith. Nonesuch made its first record with John Adams in 1985; he was signed exclusively to the label that year, and since then the company has released forty-two first recordings and thirty-one all-Adams albums. Collected Works includes thirty-five discs of Nonesuch recordings and five from other labels. You can get it here.

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