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Composer John Adams conducts the National Symphony Orchestra

It's been a busy week for composer John AdamsAs noted here a few days ago, he has been resident at the Kennedy Center for two weeks, but also has made appearances around town at the Library of Congress reading from his book Hallelujah Junction, and at the Goethe Institute to promote his soundtrack of collected works accompanying the new Italian film I Am Love.

He rounds out his residency today (Friday) during a matinee concert, then again Saturday night (click here for discounted tickets) with his final performances conducting the National Symphony Orchestra.  Last week he led the orchestra in a relatively austere concert of American and British masterpieces.  This next more aggressive program begins with Benjamin Britten's Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, which will be a fresh way to recall this highlight of Washington's prior opera season - a surprisingly tuneful opera by a composer who usually leaves me feeling pupiled rather than moved.  Adams also will conduct two of his own works, starting with The Dharma at Big Sur for electric violin and orchestra, performed by the gorgeous Leila Josefowicz - I've got a juvenile crush on the supermodel-virtuoso since she last appeared with the NSO, in a dress that made the concert experience...difficult to concentrate...

Right-o, so after that, Adams conducts his Doctor Atomic Symphony, a new work that I heard for its East Coast premiere at Carnegie Hall two years ago with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (who commissioned this work of thematic excerpts from the opera).  It is a breathtaking piece that oscillates between potential and kinetic energy, quite fulfilling of its title and perhaps, for some, a more pleasing experience than the opera itself with its predictably divisive staging/libretto by Peter Sellars (you love him or you hate him).  I hear that Penny Woolcock did much to improve things for the Met production after the San Francisco debut, just as she reinvigorated Adams' standing masterpiece, The Death of Klinghoffer, in her brilliant documentary-style film.

Local newscasts cannot be accused of covering the fine arts too much, so it came as a pleasant surprise today that the local Fox station dedicated a segment to one National Symphony Orchestra musician's quirky invention, the "baseball bat electric violin," in tribute to Josefowicz's performance (and to the Atlanta Braves, evidently).  Yet more surprising:  The perky Fox field reporter played mean chops of her own.  Enjoy the video!


Update: Click on the title of this post to get discounted Orchestra seats.
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