The Yale School of Music welcomed the famous composer and conductor John Adams earlier this week for a weeklong residency that will culminate a concert with the Yale Philharmonia.
Adams will conduct the Philharmonia and the Brentano String Quartet in two concerts, one in Woolsey Hall on Friday and the other at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on Sunday. Adams will also be on a panel discussion with University President Peter Salovey and Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker tomorrow at Morse Recital Hall. Dana Astmann, the manager of communications at the Yale School of Music, emphasized the common themes found in Adams’s compositions and Salovey’s academic background.
“One of the reasons the discussion between Adams, President Salovey and Dean Blocker will be interesting is that President Salovey’s specialty is in emotional intelligence and Adams’ operas are very psychologically probing,” Astmann said. “This combination will be very interesting to explore.”
Astmann said she thinks that discussion of Adams’s ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ — a piece that has generated debate in past years over accusations of antisemitism — will contribute meaningfully to the panel conversation with Blocker and Salovey because of the relevance of such themes to controversial political trends around the world.
The concert at Yale will feature Adams’s Beethoven-inspired piece “Absolute Jest,” performed with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky’s “Orpheus.” Adams once described “Absolute Jest” as “the most extended experience in pure ‘invention’ that I’ve ever undertaken … a thrilling lesson in counterpoint, in thematic transformation and formal design.”
During his residency, Adams will hold private workshops with students in the School of Music. Astmann said she believes that the opportunity to work directly with Adams will allow music students to observe a composer-conductor’s musical approach throughout an entire creative process, rather than simply appreciating a finished product.
“It involves not just reading about someone or seeing their work, but working with them day-to-day in rehearsal and experiencing a musical mind at work,” Astmann said.
Yale awarded Adams with an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 2013.