I recently visited the website of composer John Adams, one of America’s best-known and most-played composers. In a conversation I had with beloved Columbus Symphony Conductor Albert-George Schram, he said conductors have a certain, well, ego about them. Some believe that they are privy to how the music SHOULD be performed, regardless of WHAT the score says. Others are mindful of the composers’ intentions and do their best to bring that mindfulness to the music they conduct.
It seems for John Adams, the difficulty comes when you are a composer, a conductor, and…how shall I put this?…Alive. Adams recounts sitting through a performance of his music which he found, for lack of a better way to put it, a bit difficult to recognize. He goes on to tell the story of the couple seated next to him who had no idea he was the composer. Suffice it to say, be careful how you express your musical opinion…you never know who might be sitting next to you! The National Endowment for the Arts recently honored John Adams for his work, which you can see below…many others can be found on Adams’ website. — Boyce Lancaster
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