Lucky Sydney (Australia)

August 22 and 23, 2013, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with John Adams conducting, will premiere Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, with the stupendous Timothy McAllister on saxophone. McAllister spoke with SoundNotion in an entertaining and wide-ranging conversation about the Saxophone Concerto, Adam’s previous piece featuring McAllister, City Noir, as well as “style, artistry and [calling all music nerds and fellow travelers] how a piece can rock even without slap tonguing.”

Also on the program is Adams’s Violin Concerto, featuring the excellent Leila Josefowicz on violin. For those of you lucky enough to get to Sydney, Australia, for the concert, more information may be found here.

This fall, the concerto will come to the U.S., with performances in Baltimore, MD (Marin Alsop conducting), and St. Louis, MO (David Robertson conducting). The Robertson/St. Louis concert will be streamed live on St. Louis Public Radio October 5th. More information on the U.S. performances and live stream may be found here.


>>Our “on site” correspondent in Sydney reports: “The ([8PM] Sydney time) Friday night concert will be broadcast live across Australia and streamed on ABC Classic FM, and that would be at 0600 Friday New York time (I think).” The link is here. A clip of the concerto is on Adams’s website here (I think this is MIDI, not live instruments, but others please correct me if I’m wrong). The Sydney Symphony Orchestra program for the concert is here. Thanks to wanderer, our “on site” correspondent in Sydney, for providing these links!

>>John Adams speaks with Andrew Ford on Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio here about the Saxophone Concerto, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and other works.

>>David Robertson will become the Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for the 2014 season. A fascinating interview with him, “Why Are American Orchestras Afraid Of New Symphonies?” may be found here. Lucky Sydney, indeed.


Credits: The quotation is from SoundNotion’s YouTube description.

13 thoughts on “Lucky Sydney (Australia)

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Friko: Though in this case, it’s not possible, you do know me well–after all, it was the trip to Washington DC where I really became aware of the terrific saxophonist Timothy McAllister. I’m glad to know there will be live streams, including, as our on site correspondent wanderer has noted in his comment, this Friday’s concert in Sydney.

  1. wanderer

    Well spotted, and what a lot of work you’ve put into those links.

    The Australian Broadcasting Commission Andrew Ford interview with Adams is a bit of a fizzer as after three unsatisfactory phone links the interview went ahead but only a few minutes were suitable to go to air. The Tim McAllister video interview is great (you’ve obviously watched it too) and if I could add two other links, there is the Adams’ website with a tiny excerpt from the Saxophone Concerto here, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra programme for the concert (pdf) here, with more on Adams (composer and conductor) and both the Violin Concerto and the new Saxophone Concerto, plus interviews etc.

    The (Sydney time) Friday night concert will be broadcast live across Australia and streamed on ABC Classic FM, and that would be at 0600 Friday New York time (I think). Early birds get the ear worms.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      wanderer: Thank you so much for all the added links, which, as you’ll see, I’ve put up in the sidebar. Interesting about the Andrew Ford interview–it did seem short. So glad you enjoyed the SoundNotion–McAllister seems such a nice guy, on top of all else. I loved his story about dropping his phone in the waffle shop when he got the e-mail from Adams saying he’d written a concerto for him.

      I’ll be interested to know your experience of Friday’s concert, pros and cons (my dedication is great, but whether I’ll make the 6AM live stream is more than a bit open to doubt), and of course the Denk concert, too. I don’t recall the date of your Denk concert, but I see the 8/17 concert got a terrific review: Denk is recording the Goldbergs, to be released in September. I’m looking forward to that. His Bach Partitas are marvelous. And to think David Robertson is coming on board to conduct your way, too!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Dave: SoundNotion is great, and you all always seem to be having such a good time! Learned of you when you did the interview with Dylan Mattingly and David Bloom about the Stream of Stars CD. More recently, really enjoyed the one with Thomas Deneuville at I Care If You Listen. And you’ve just reminded me, when I saw your comment, to get over there and send off a donation. Done! Thanks for everything you do.

      1. Dave

        That’s very kind of you. We really appreciate it.

        And just so there’s no mystery, we really *are* haveing such a good time!

  2. David N

    Waiting for wanderer’s report from Sydney with great anticipation. Didn’t know Tim McAllister. Wonder when we get it here – must check the season (so steeped in Proms at the moment that it’s impossible to look forward). Hope it’s not too dense in that programme, because the Violin Concerto requires massive concentration.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David N: Me too! Hope you will have a chance to listen to the SoundNotion video/audio. It is long, so you would of course be forgiven if there’s not time enough in the day, but I want to say I found it fascinating. McAllister notes, among other things, that Adams included no extended techniques for the sax (I love what he says about this and heartily endorse it). It will be interesting to know how it turned out, but pro or con, McAllister is definitely someone to watch. As to your comment about the Violin Concerto, this is not a piece I know well, and I’m now even more eager to go back to it, given what you say. I only wish I could hear not only with your ears, but with your knowledge. I know you don’t trumpet this, but the fact that you listen at concerts without taking notes is a marvel to me. I do think it’s best, so as not to distract one’s attention, but on the other hand, the musical memory it requires to write about it afterwards, as you do with such intelligence, I find remarkable.

      1. David N

        Thanks, Sue. I work on the premise that memorable details stick in the mind, while so much else that seems interesting at the time falls away. Helps if I know the work too, of course. I also find that in writing down a note you may miss the next wonder, not to mention the flow. One of my colleagues was on about a ‘critics’ notebook’. I wrote to ask him if he meant ‘critic’s’ (singular) but he said, no, it was a generic concept. With which, I wrote back, I had no familiarity.

        I do sometimes write down a line or two at a play if I can’t get hold of the text.

        Now I must read wanderer and attend to the video.

        Off to Proms Parsifal in four hours’ time…

  3. wanderer

    Time poor still, I’m afraid. But I can say the ACO/Denk concert was brilliant. The review above gives it the high praise it more than merits. The programming alone is worth noting, and gives the nod to the nature of the ensemble and its guest, the astonishing Jeremy Denk:

    Bach: Canons (14) on a Goldberg Ground BWV 1087 (arr Tognetti)
    Ligeti: Etudes nos 7,10,11,13
    Ives: Scherzo “Holding your Own”
    Ives: Piano Sonata no 2, “Concord”: The Alcotts
    Bach: Keyboard Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056

    Brahms: Piano Quintet

    Note the Canons and the Ligeti were interleaved – “Bligeti” mused Tognetti (along with the story of the admonition of Ives to a grumbler to ‘sit down and take your dissonance like a man) in his opening welcome before introducing and giving the mike to Mr Denk). It was completely amazing in its effect, though the take home moment for me was the outstanding climax of Etude XI – En suspens – where the electricity generated was of such intensity, as the phenomenal Denk was at risk of running out of fast twitch fibres, if not piano, if not sanity, that it was really of question of who would explode first – me, the woman next to me who knew what was going on my way and turned to me such that we ‘joined’ in an almost out of body experience, or Jeremy Denk, the so bold, so confident, so not arrogant, so amazing to watch (and that was only his face we saw) piano man.

    The Brahms was perfect – and especially for me the sublime melodic Andante – got a bit teary there. It too was broadcast, and hopefully might come out of CD, whence one may well find its way to our hostess.

    Now sadly I didn’t make it to the Adams SSO night, with indispensable work matters intervening. I did however listen to the broadcast, as we finally escaped the city and drove to the country in a night of a million stars above, and three, at least, in the 8th Wonder of the World (as the slightly gushy airwaves host introduced the evening). I think David Nice is onto something, no surprise there. As heard on the car radio, the Violin Concerto was as thrilling as it was incomprehensibly difficult to play, and has gone onto the ‘buy’ list. I’d love to have seen her. By now my concentration well depleted, and a twelve hour day catching up, the much anticipated Sax Concerto, which opened the second half, was getting I regret to confess too superficial a listen but I can say it was another astounding virtuosic piece and one wonders if Mr McAllister alone can handle the challenges written just for him. I wish I’d been there.

    Harriet Cunningham’s review (she’s good) is here.

    1. David N

      Yes, wanderer, that programming is remarkable but no more than I would expect from the great Mr D. I had fun with ‘the Alcotts’ in talking around Beethoven 5. And I’m head over heels in love again with Brahms chamber works after hearing a blistering performance of the Piano Quartet with the fab gypsy rondo at Stavanger (what a team we had there, too!)

    2. Susan Scheid Post author

      wanderer: This is a simply splendid report! I am sorry you weren’t able to be eyewitness to the Adams concert, though hearing it as you traveled beneath a million stars is a lovely thing to contemplate. I hope you will get a chance to hear both Adams’s pieces, not to mention the stupendous Leila Josefowicz and Timothy McAllister, live. (On the subject of Josefowicz, I highly recommend Adams’s The Dharma at Big Sur,, a gorgeous piece for orchestra and amplified violin. This is definitely one for under a million stars. Oh, and while I’m at it, the Contemporaneous Album “Stream of Stars, the Music of Dylan Mattingly,”, is another wonderful CD for under the big sky. Mattingly studies with Adams, among others, though is definitely his own man.)

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