Composer Focus: John Adams & Shaker Loops

Find out about the music behind the concert, with our quick guide to John Adams’ Shaker Loops, to be performed at our first CLoSer concert on Tuesday 22 November. 

Shaker Loops
Written in 1978 by American composer John Adams, hailed as one of the great composers of minimalist music, Shaker Loops is one of his most popular and performed compositions.

Formed of four movements:

I. Shaking and Trembling
II. Hymning Slews
III. Loops and Verses
IV. A Final Shaking

Adams says of the piece “the four sections, although they meld together evenly, are really quite distinct, each being characterized by a particular style of string playing. The outside movements are devoted to ’shaking,’ the fast, tightly rhythmicised motion of the bow across the strings.

Portrait_2_small

image: Margaretta Mitchell

Part II is deliberately slower and languid followed by the melodic third movement, with “the celli playing long, lyrical lines (which are nevertheless loops themselves) against a background of muted violins, an activity which gradually takes speed and mass until it culminates in the wild push-pull section that is the emotional high of the piece.” 

The piece takes its name from both the distinctive ‘shaking’ of the strings as they oscillate between notes, and the image Adams’ had of ‘Shakers’ (members of the Millennial Church), dancing and worshipping to repetitive, energetic music.

John Adams occupies a unique position in American music, with his works renowned for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. His operatic works include Doctor Atomic and The Death of Klinghoffer and his composition On the Transmigration of Souls written for the New York Philharmonic to mark the first anniversary of the World Trade Centre attack, won three Grammys and the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003.

He has said of London audiences “they are my ideal listeners – sophisticated, musically literate, enthusiastic and of course a little bit insane!”

Listen to our Spotify playlist for a preview of Shaker Loops.

CLoSer
Tuesday 22 November, 7.30pm
Village Underground, EC2A

Tickets: £15 (includes a free drink)
Box office: 020 7377 1362/spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk

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