Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The West Coast vs. Classical Music

ON Saturday night I took in an intriguing if imperfect concert at Disney Hall that involved Kronos Quartet, electronica duo Matmos, rocker Mike Einziger and minimalist pioneer Terry Riley. The evening -- with the coolest crowd I've ever seen at Disney Hall -- was the kickoff to the Phil's "West Coast, Left Coast" festival, which runs for the next several weeks. (Review of show here.)

The festival, which aims to seek and present what's most distinctive about West Coast music, is curated by Bay Area composer John Adams, and I first heard about the festival last year, when I flew to Berkeley to interview Adams about his memoir. In "Hallelujah Junction," Adams writes about his New England roots in "the era of the clarinet in American music," his move to California in the early '70s, working menial jobs and flirting with experimental and electronic music, and his eventual development of a personal language that nonetheless synthesizes various strands of West Coast tradition.

HERE is my interview with the composer. The book, now out in paperback, is a delight, and is a work of not just musical but cultural history. Will be writing more about the festival in this space.

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