Tag Archives: John Adams

Month in pictures – September and October

We’ve had two very busy months at CLS. Our RE:Imagine concert series got off to a flying start in September with CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance at Village Underground, and continued at Southwark Cathedral with an atmospheric celebration of the music of one of the most romantic cities in the world, in Venice: Darkness to Light. But that’s not all we’ve been up to so far this autumn. Take a look at some of our highlights of the last two months…

CLoSer: Debussy, Copland and Dance saw us return to the intimate setting of Village Underground with a programme exploring music written for dance from Rameau’s 18th century take on the classical Pygmalion myth to Copland’s evocative Appalachian Spring. The concert opened and closed with two brand new dance interpretations of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by choreographer Tony Adigun, one contemporary classical, one urban. Photographer James Berry was on hand to capture the concert as it happened. Take a look at some of his stunning pictures…

Whether you missed the concert, or would just like to relive the evening, you can still watch short highlights on our website.

Our second RE:Imagine concert took us to the magnificent Southwark Cathedral to celebrate one of the world’s most wonderful cities, with Venice: Darkness to Light. Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and countertenor Alex Potter joined us for JS Bach’s re-imagining of Pergolesi’s Stabat MaterTilge, Höchster, meine Sünden, and Latvian composer Ugis Praulins continued our theme of re-imagining the works of Bach, with his arrangement of movements from the Mass in B minor. Here are some lovely photos of rehearsals by James Berry.

On top of all that, it’s been very busy in the education department, as we returned to Suffolk and Essex for our annual Lullaby Concert tour and workshops with Orchestras Live. We also brought a Very Special Bear’s first concert to Warwick, Basingstoke and Saffron Walden with the help of the excellent Simon Callow, who was an absolute natural at conducting! Take a look behind the scenes to see us wrestling with balloons, and a lovely Paddington Bear card made by one of our younger audience members in Basingstoke!

Our RE:Imagine series continues in the new year with The Viennese Salon in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, and our next Crash Bang Wallop! family concert will take place on 12 December. We hope to see you there!

Crash Bang Wallop! Let it Snow
Saturday 12 December 2015, 11.00am
Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London
Tickets: £8 Children, £10 Adults, £30 Family (four tickets)
Box Office: 020 7730 4500 / cadoganhall.com

The Viennese Salon
Sunday 24 January 2016, 2.00pm
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, London
Tickets: £62 (premium), £15 – 48, £10 (standing)
Box Office: 020 7401 9919 / shakespearesglobe.com


Venice: Darkness to Light

Our RE:Imagine season continues this Wednesday with Venice: Darkness to Light at Southwark Cathedral. We’ve put together this playlist as a little guide to the re-imagined sounds of the concert along with the pieces that inspired them.

Following the journey of the concert, first off, we have Bach’s take on two of Italy’s finest 18th Century composers: the first movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Bach’s version of it as the cantata Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden; and the first movement of Vivaldi’s violin concerto from L’estro Armonico that Bach re-imagined as a keyboard concerto.

Sticking with Bach, we have the movements from Bach’s Mass in B Minor that Ugis Praulins has re-imagined (you’ll have to come to the concert if you want to hear what Ugis has done with it!). Following the Bach, are John Adams’ orchestral re-imaginings of Liszt’s The Black Gondola and Busoni’s Berceuse Elegiaque, and their piano version originals.

The most intriguing of the re-imaginings, however, is the overture to Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. Stravinsky based his piece on music by Pergolesi… except that it wasn’t by Pergolesi at all. Most of it was by a little known Venetian composer by the name of Domenico Gallo, who was little known because his publishers passed off most of his music as being by Pergolesi, because that way they knew it would sell more copies! Gallo is restored to his rightful place here, next to Stravinsky’s re-imagining.


Venice: Darkness to Light
Wednesday 14 October 2015, 7.30pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Tickets £25, £15, £5* (*restricted view)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at www.cls.co.uk/cls-fiver) Box Office / 020 7377 1362

RETROSPECT: October in Pictures

Here’s a whistle stop tour of what we got up to in October, which included a visit to St Joseph’s Hospice for a performance as part of Hospice Care Week, as well as a return to Great Ormond Street Hospital for a lunchtime chamber concert. With concerts in Hereford, Yeovil, Oswestry, Truro and Egremont with the Katona Twins and Craig Ogden, the players have been very busy, not to mention their performance at Cadogan Hall with Michael Collins, featuring the music of John Adams (complete with cow noises!).

Oh the glamorous life of a musician… Craig Ogden’s dressing room in Truro!

The City of London Sinfonia Quartet perform at St Joseph’s Hospice

The Orchestra rehearse John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with Michael Collins

Our Education Manager, Gillian, displaying her rather adventurous fashion sense ahead of our Lullaby concert tour to Suffolk.

Rehearsing with the Katona Twins at the Courtyard in Hereford

And finally… a shot from above at the Courtyard

Spotlight on…John Adams

We compare and contrast the life of John Adams with that of Igor Stravinsky in our previous blog post, ahead of our concert on Thursday night at Cadogan Hall.

John Coolidge Adams



His father taught him how to play the clarinet, and he was a clarinetist in community ensembles as a young boy. He began composing at the age of ten with his music first performed publically when he was 14 years old. Studied at Harvard University where he was awarded two degrees. He received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his orchestral work, On the Transmigration of Souls, a memorial to the September 11 attacks.


Image: Margaret Mitchell

Breakthrough Moment
Acknowledged for bringing contemporary history to the opera house with his post-modern operatic works Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) and Doctor Atomic (2005). A recent survey shows him to be the most frequently performed living American composer of orchestral music.

CLS performance
Gnarly Buttons
is his concerto for clarinet and small orchestra, written for and premiered by our Principal Conductor Michael Collins, and featuring the banjo, mandolin and guitar! Grand Pianola Music was inspired by a dream in which he found himself driving down Interstate 5, being approached by two of the world’s longest Steinways! It unusually features two pianos and three female voices sing a wordless harmony.

Stravinsky & John Adams
Thursday 18 October, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall, London

Stravinsky Octet
John Adams Gnarly Buttons
John Adams Grand Pianola Music

Tickets from £15
Box Office: 020 7730 4500/cadoganhall.com

Spotlight on…Igor Stravinsky

Ahead of our concert on Thursday night at Cadogan Hall, we take a quick look at the life of one of the twentieth century’s most influential composers: Igor Stravinsky.

Igor Feodorovich Stravinsky

130 (if still alive!)

Russian by birth, then became a Swiss resident, took French citizenship in 1934, before becoming a naturalised United States citizen in 1945.   

Third son of Feodor Stravinsky, one of the principal basses at the Maryinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. Studied law at university before concentrating on music fulltime.Studied informally with Russian composer and member of The Five, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsadov, for three years.  


Breakthrough Moment
The Firebird, a ballet, premiered in Paris in 1910 that first brought him to international prominence. His third ballet The Rite of Spring is often seen as one of the major landmarks in classical music history, as it is often cited as the beginning of modernism and established Stravinsky as the most radical composer of his age.

City of London Sinfonia Performance
His Octet is widely seen as one of the most influential pieces of chamber music. It is scored unusually for woodwind and brass instruments and is regarded as marking the start of Stravinsky’s neoclassicsm compositions. American composer Aaron Copland who attended the premiere, later commented “No one could possibly have foreseen . . . that the Octet was destined to influence composers all over the world.”

Stravinsky & John Adams
Thursday 18 October, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall, London

Stravinsky       Octet
John Adams    Gnarly Buttons
John Adams    Grand Pianola Music

Michael Colllins conductor/clarinet

Tickets from £15
Box Office: 020 7730 4500/

CLoSer – The First Review

We asked Laura, our Marketing Intern and newest office recruit, to give us the lowdown on the launch of CLoSer on Tuesday night.

CLoSer, our brand new concert series, launched on Tuesday with a Strings Masterclass in East London’s newest venue, Village Underground.

This renovated, turn-of-the-century, warehouse offered a versatile space, acted  as an atmospheric and edgy venue. A brilliant blank canvas of old brick, hinting at its industrial past, Village Underground transformed for the evening, hosting 200 audience members, free to relax on floor cushions, unwind at the bar and get closer to the orchestra.

The informal evening of orchestral music was led by our charismatic Principal Conductor , Michael Collins and progressed through a programme of three works, and also featured Michael  as a soloist. The minimalist Shaker Loops, by John Adams, opened the evening with energetic motion and electrifying acceleration. Gathering speed over 25 minutes, the orchestra played with vigour as the music gained speed and rhythmic excitement.


This opening piece was followed by an interview with Michael himself, carried out by our principal cellist, Sue Dorey. Touching on his ability to deftly switch role from conductor to soloist, he spoke fondly of his musical education and how he came to play clarinet as a young boy. One of the leading clarinettists of his generation, Michael’s  performance of Gordon Jacob’s mini-concerto Clarinet Concertino entertained the audience through his persuasive musicianship and buoyant, light-hearted style.

After a brief introduction to the techniques employed by the musicians, the concert came to a close with Bartok’s Divertimento for Strings; a rousing finish to the evening with its gypsy character and dance-like style. The audience  were then free to enjoy the bar and mingle with musicians before offering their feedback on their departure.

Wednesday 29th February, 7.30pm,
Village Underground,

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

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.


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.

Tuesday 22 November, 7.30pm
Village Underground, EC2A

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