John Adams talks about “City Noir” and his American influences

Posted on: January 29, 2010

In Thursday’s (1/28) Daily Telegraph (London), Ivan Hewitt speaks with John Adams, whose City Noir will be performed in March by the London Symphony Orchestra, which co-commissioned it with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Adams says, “I’m following that great tradition started by Gershwin. He was influenced by jazz, but when he wrote for orchestra he was determined to be a classical composer. … It’s become a genuine bona fide tradition … I am basically a harmonic composer. This piece started with a sequence of chords that I wrote on a single sheet of paper. I wanted a high-energy opening that explodes out, and then we get a nervous episode. … More and more I feel one of the most appealing and irresistible things in art is a sense of place. I love the Spanish aspect of Ravel, I love the way Hardy evokes rural England in his novels. It’s not so easy for me, as the orchestra is basically a 19th-century European invention. So what I do can’t be as innately American as Bob Dylan or Miles Davis, but I think I’ve been able to infuse something of my experience as an American into my music.” The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed the world premiere of City Noir in October.

Posted January 29, 2010