Tuesday, May 31 , 2016, 2:08 pm | Mostly Cloudy 65º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube

Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts


Gerald Carpenter: Thomas Adè to Conduct Academy Festival Orchestra in All-Modern Finale

By Gerald Carpenter, Noozhawk Contributing Writer |

The dazzling young composer-pianist-conductor Thomas Adè will conduct the Music Academy of the West's Festival Orchestra in the closing concert of the 2014 Summer Festival, at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Granada Theatre.

At first glance, Adès has put together a rather assertively "modern" program for the season finale: Charles Ives' Variations on "America" (1892) (orchestrated by William Schuman); the "Four Sea Interludes" from Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes (1945); Adès’ own Polaris: Voyage for Orchestra (2010); and Igor Stravinsky's ever-magical ballet Petrushka (1911).

A little reflection, however, reveals this to be modernism at its most accessible. Even though it is the earliest piece on the program, the sheer Yankee crankiness of Ives' "America" makes it sound almost the newest.

Ives wrote the Variations when he was 18. He had been a church organist since he was 14, and the piece was written for organ originally. Schuman made an orchestral arrangement in 1964, and it immediately became the preferred version. Compare the Ives Variations to John Knowles Paine's 1861 Concert Variations on the "Star Spangled Banner", Opus 1 or Dudley Buck's 1887 Festival Overture on the American National Air, "The Star Spangled Banner," and you will find both Ives' compositional models and a measure of the radical nature of his musical sensibility.

Except for his heartbreaking Sinfonia da Requiem (1940) and the lovely ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas (1956), I have always found Britten's music utterly easy to resist. This goes double — nay, triple — for his dreary, tuneless, interminable operas (after suffering through one of them, Noël Coward wrote in his diary, "I think he goes a bit far in the avoidance of melody"). So, I am not the man to consult for a positive promotion of the "Four Sea Interludes," though people I respect have been moved to remark that, "they aren't that bad, for Britten." Fulsome praise.

Adès’ Polaris — the title refers to the official name of what is popularly known as the North Star — is delightfully and deliberately spacey. It is a very pleasant quarter hour spent poking around in the universe.

Petrushka is, of course, one of the wonders of the modern world, as fresh and mesmerizing today as when it was first performed, more than a century ago, under the baton of the young Swiss conductor, Pierre Monteux — who, two years later, was to also conduct the premiere of The Rite of Spring.

Tickets to this concert are $48, $38 and $15, and they can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking here. Tickets are also available from the Granada box office at 805.899.2222.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.