What does a renowned, Harvard-educated,
composer say just after the standing-ovation world premiere of his new symphony at
Concert Hall, performed by the
under the baton of its wildly celebrated new music director, Gustavo Dudamel?
, wasn't it?" says a beaming
Yeah, that's the way "we old boomers" talk, Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. President Deborah Borda, 60, jokes of her longtime friend and colleague Adams, 62. It doesn't seem to surprise her during a conversation at the gala party after the Oct. 8 premiere that Adams would use the phrase when talking about "City Noir," a work inspired by
's classic noir films of the 1940s and '50s.
Besides -- it
rockin'. The buzz at the Latin-themed post-premiere affair seemed to have less to do with the generously distributed "Pasión" cocktail created in honor of Dudamel's first Disney Hall concert as Philharmonic music director -- an alarmingly sweet combo of rum, pineapple, coconut juice and grenadine -- than with the afterglow of the music.
The heady sensation made it clear that 28-year-old Dudamel isn't the only new kid at the Phil: The other is Adams, in his inaugural season as the orchestra's creative chair and curator of the Philharmonic's first festival of Dudamel's tenure: West Coast, Left Coast, a three-week event launching Saturday and exploring
The multidisciplinary festival will feature composers and performers long associated with California's classical music scene, including
's Kronos Quartet, composer-musician Terry Riley and former L.A. Phil Music Director
, now the orchestra's first conductor laureate; Salonen's "L.A. Variations" will be on the program with "City Noir," also conducted by Dudamel.
Also on the eclectic list are former Beach Boy
and "The Yellow Shark," a
composition by the late
that Adams will conduct and describes as "fiendishly difficult." "Being the cantankerous person that he was, when he composed classical contemporary music, he made sure it was hard," Adams says with obvious relish.
More stuff you might not expect: a "Night of the Beats," blending jazz performance with poetry, and a symposium that includes Grateful Dead bass player
, film composer
history professor and former California State Librarian Kevin Starr. Starr's series of books on California history were a major inspiration for "City Noir."
"He's quite an Americanist," says Starr of Adams. "John has a special ability, or developed ability, to hear the music of various American places. Look at his
: 'Dr. Atomic' [about the first test of an atomic bomb in Los Alamos, N.M.]; 'Nixon in China,' with the breathtaking arrival of the plane onstage -- when Nixon gets out, he really gives us Nixon in the music. His music is abstract but not too abstract. Despite the incredibly intricate theory behind what he does, you can follow the story he's telling you."
Festival artists coming in from outside of the classical concert world seem to appreciate the opportunity Adams offers to work outside the walls of their commercial careers. Newman, whose film score credits include