The world premiere of John Adams' "Naive and Sentimental Music" by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Friday would be enough to make our city the center of the new music universe, at least for this weekend. But, in fact, the Adams' work is only one element in a half-intentional, half-serendipitous cluster of local new music events--including two concurrent festivals.
It all adds up to an intensive survey of the great musical conflict that has characterized the last quarter of the 20th century--the love-hate relationship between ultramodern music and Minimalism. Modernists of the '50s and '60s avant-garde such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez and John Cage set out to reinvent the musical wheel with new technologies and theories, while Minimalists such as Terry Riley and Philip Glass renewed tonality through the use of chugging rhythms, repeated patterns and glacially changing harmonies. It's a complicated, epic struggle that gets at the very heart of what's new and why it matters.
Timed to coincide with the Adams premiere, CalArts will provide context for the Minimalist side with the first part of its Musical Explorations Festival ("Gradual Processes: Antecedents, Crossovers and Consequences of Minimalism in American Music") beginning tonight with a chamber music survey and continuing until Feb. 24.
The Philharmonic, in turn, will use the Adams premiere to explore issues of Modernism's accessibility in a daylong conference Saturday: "Reports From a Surprising Century," featuring noted musicologists-journalists Richard Taruskin, David Schiff and Michael Breckerman, and the president of Nonesuch Records, Robert Hurwitz.
Meanwhile, Southwest Chamber Music is paying homage to the Pasadena Art Museum, which provided a forum for avant-garde music in the '60s and early '70s. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition "Radical P.A.S.T.," the festival lasts through mid-April in Pasadena and L.A.
Next, Monday Evening Concerts, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, celebrates its 60 years of devotion to Modernism with two retrospective programs.
And throughout the next nine weeks, appearances by such contemporary heavyweights as Philip Glass, Terry Riley and the Ensemble Intercontemporain fill out the Modernist-Minimalist bill.
CalArts Festival: Chamber music, works by John Cage, Anthony Braxton, Michael Jon Fink and others, Zipper Hall, 8 p.m. $3-$10. (213) 621-2200.
Los Angeles Philharmonic: Premiere of John Adams' "Naive and Sentimental Music," Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 8 p.m. $11-$65. (213) 825-2000.
Los Angeles Philharmonic Conference: "Reports From the Surprising Century," Museum of Contemporary Art, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free, reservations required. (323) 850-2105.
"Radical P.A.S.T.": Works by Charles Ives, John Cage, Frederick Lesseman, Harry Partch and Lou Harrison, Armory Center for the Arts, 8 p.m. $10-$20. (800) 726-7147.
Los Angeles Philharmonic: John Adams' "Naive and Sentimental Music," Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 8 p.m. $11-$65. (213) 825-2000.
CalArts Festival: "Music for Multiple Pianos," works by Morton Feldman, Dick Higgins, David Rosenboom, James Tenny and Jack Vees, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 11 a.m. Free. (323) 850-2000.
Los Angeles Philharmonic: John Adams' "Naive and Sentimental Music," Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 2:30 p.m. $11-$65. (213) 825-2000.
"Radical P.A.S.T.": Morton Feldman's "For Christian Wolf," Dorothy Stone, flutist, and Susan Svrcek, pianist, Armory Center for the Performing Arts, 5 p.m., $10-$20. (800) 726-7147.
CalArts Festival: "Gradual Processes in Electronic Media," works by Kyle Gann, David Tudor, Christian Wolff, Museum of Contemporary Art, 8 p.m. Free. (323) 850-2000.
"Radical P.A.S.T.": Works by Charles Ives, John Cage, Frederick Lesseman, Harry Partch and Lou Harrison, Zipper Hall, 5:30 p.m. $10-$20. Morton Feldman's "For Christian Wolf," Dorothy Stone, flutist, and Susan Svrcek, pianist, Zipper Hall, 8 p.m. $10-$20. (800) 726-7147.
Green Umbrella series: Music by Lois V Vierk, Stephen Scott and others, Japan American Theatre, 8 p.m. $20-$25. (213) 365-3500.
CalArts Festival: "Different Trains: Solo Music," music by Joseph Brennan, Tom Hiel, Steven Hoey and others, Barnsdall Art Park, 8 p.m. $6-$12. (323) 769-6366.
Green Umbrella series: Works by William Kraft, Gerald Levinson, John Adams, others. Japan America Theatre. 8 p.m. $20-$25. (213) 365-3500.
Terry Riley in concert, Irvine Barclay Theatre, 8 p.m. $18. (949) 854-4646.
"Radical P.A.S.T.": Conversation with Leonard Stein, director of the Encounters series at the Pasadena Art Museum 1964-73, Armory Center for the Arts, 8 p.m. Free. (800) 726-7147.
Monday Evening Concerts: "Night Ragas and Spontaneous Musings," Terry Riley and Stefan Scodanibbio, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 8 p.m. $15. (323) 857-6010.