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  • WDCH
  • Dec. 16, 2005
  • Composer John Adams Speaks at "Upbeat Live" Pre-Concert Events

    FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2005, AT 11 AM,

    SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2005, AT 8 PM,

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2005, AT 2 PM

    Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen leads soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a concert presentation of John Adams’ acclaimed oratorio El Niño on Friday, December 16, 11 a.m., Saturday, December 17, 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 18, 2005, 2 p.m., at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Joining Upshaw, for whom Adams wrote this work, are bass-baritone Sir Willard White, who performed El Niño at its Paris world premiere in 2000 and with the Philharmonic at its Los Angeles premiere in 2003; mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung; countertenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings and Paul Flight; the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, music director; and Los Angeles Children's Chorus, Anne Tomlinson, director. The Master Chorale and Children's Chorus also performed this piece with the Philharmonic in 2003. Bubeck and Cummings made their professional debuts at El Niño's Paris premiere.

    In the great tradition of the oratorio, El Niño has been hailed as a Messiah for modern times, although its themes -- the mystery of the Conception and the miracle of the birth of not only Christ but of all children -- are expressed through a great range of non-Biblical writing. At the time of its world premiere, Adams noted that he had wanted to write a work tackling the Nativity of Christ and the miracle of birth generally. “The piece is my way of trying to understand what is meant by a miracle," he said in 2000. "When I recently reread some of the New Testament gospels I was struck as never before by the fact that most of the narratives are little more than long sequences of miracles. The Nativity is the first of these miracles, and El Niño is a meditation on these events. In fact, my original working title was How Could This Happen? This phrase, taken from the Antiphon for Christmas Eve, also must surely have been uttered by me at the births of my own son and daughter.”

    Adams discusses the program at "Upbeat Live," a free event open to all ticket holders held one hour before each performance.

    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, the tenth conductor to head the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is currently in his 14th season as Music Director. He made his American debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in November 1984, and he has conducted the orchestra every season since. His current tenure is the second-longest in Philharmonic history, and he recently extended his contract through the 2007/08 season. Alongside his activities as a conductor, Salonen has also won acclaim for his work as a composer. Among the many highlights of Salonen's activities with the Philharmonic have been world premieres of works by composers John Adams, Franco Donatoni, William Kraft, Witold Lutoslawski, Magnus Lindberg, Bernard Rands, Rodion Shchedrin, Steven Stucky, Tan Dun, and Augusta Read Thomas, as well as his own works. He has led critically acclaimed festivals of music by Ligeti, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Berlioz, and has served as Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival. He and the Philharmonic have toured extensively since 1992, including extended residencies at the Salzburg Festival and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Salonen's latest orchestral work, Wing on Wing, received its world premiere in June 2004 as part of the Philharmonic's Building Music Festival. In March 2003 Salonen signed an exclusive four-year recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon; in February 2005, the label released Wing on Wing, a disc devoted to his recent works. Before signing with DG, Salonen recorded regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Sony Classical. A Sony disc of Salonen's compositions, including LA Variations, Five Images After Sappho, Giro, Gambit, and Mania, has garnered critical acclaim throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Salonen and the Philharmonic's discography also includes the debut recording of John Adams' Naive and Sentimental Music - a work that the orchestra premiered - for the Nonesuch label. Salonen was born in Helsinki in 1958, and after studies at the Sibelius Academy in Finland and with private teachers Franco Donatoni and Niccolò Castiglioni in Italy, he made his conducting debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1979. He is the recipient of many major awards including the Siena Prize from the Accademia Chigiana in 1993, the first conductor ever to receive the prize; the Royal Philharmonic Society's Opera Award in 1995; and their Conductor Award in 1997. In 1998 he was awarded the rank of Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government; in 2003 he received an honorary doctorate from the Sibelius Academy in Finland.

    Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music, DAWN UPSHAW has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Pamina, Ilia, Susanna, Despina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg and Paris to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; L'Amour de Loin by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams' nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov's chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre, recently recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. Dawn Upshaw is a favored partner of many leading musicians, including Richard Goode, the Kronos Quartet, James Levine, Sir Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In her work as a recitalist, and particularly in her work with composers, Upshaw has become a generative force in concert music, having premiered more than 40 works in the past decade. From Carnegie Hall to large and small venues throughout the world she regularly presents specially designed programs composed of lieder, unusual contemporary works in many languages, and folk and popular music. She furthers this work around the country in master classes and workshops with young singers at major music festivals, conservatories, and liberal arts colleges. She is a member of the faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center, and in 2006 begins an association with the Bard College Conservatory of Music for which she has designed a master's degree program in the vocal arts. A three-time Grammy Award winner, Dawn Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki. "Voices of Light" - her most recent Nonesuch solo recording with pianist Gilbert Kalish - features music of Messiaen, Debussy, Golijov, and Fauré. She is featured on three recent NPR Creators at Carnegie programs, in live performances of Bach, Bartók, Berio, Golijov, and Mozart.

    MICHELLE DEYOUNG has already established herself as one of the most exciting artists of her generation. In the past few seasons, DeYoung has been seen on the concert platforms of many of the world's leading orchestras and has worked with conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Stéphane Denève, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Mariss Jansons, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

    WILLARD WHITE, born in Jamaica, attended the Juilliard School in New York. Since making his debut with the New York City Opera he has sung in the opera houses of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, San Francisco, London - both the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and English National Opera - Munich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Geneva, Hamburg, Madrid, Paris, Los Angeles, Brussels, and at the Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, and Salzburg Festivals. White's large repertoire includes the bass-baritone roles in operas by Bartók, Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Debussy, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Messiaen, and Gershwin. White sings regularly with the world's major orchestras, and he has appeared as soloist many times at the BBC Proms. His concert program "An Evening with Willard White - a tribute to Paul Robeson," continues to be a huge success at festivals, has been shown on BBC television, and has now been issued on CD. His latest CD, My Way, was released on the Sony label in July 2005. White was awarded the CBE in 1995, and he was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2004.

    Countertenor DANIEL BUBECK made his professional debut to critical acclaim singing as the First Countertenor in the premiere of John Adams' El Niño, directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Kent Nagano at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. He has since performed this role in productions with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Radio Filharmonisch Holland, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the Tokyo Symphony, the Malmo Opera in Sweden, Den Norske Opera in Oslo, and at the Adelaide Festival in Australia, and recorded it for Nonesuch. He has worked under such renowned conductors as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Christopher Hogwood, Nicholas McGegan, Bruno Weil, and Paul Hillier. Bubeck, a noted specialist in music of the 17th and 18th centuries, made his debut with the American Bach Soloists in 2005. He is equally at home performing contemporary music. Following the success of El Niño he was invited to return to the Tokyo Symphony in 2004 for Hans Werner Henze's Das verratene Meer.

    BRIAN CUMMINGS, countertenor, studied Early Music at Indiana University working with Paul Elliott, Paul Hillier, and Nigel North. He has been soloist with the Dresdner Kreuzchor (Germany) and the Bloomington Early Music Festival, and has sung in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Handel's Messiah at Indiana University. He has sung with the Pro Arte Singers under Paul Hillier and can be heard on their recordings for Harmonia Mundi. Cummings made his professional debut in the world premiere of John Adams' El Niño in Paris and has appeared in performances of this piece throughout the world, including with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Tokyo Symphony.

    PAUL FLIGHT, countertenor, has sung with the Waverly Consort, New York Collegium, American Bach Soloists, San Francisco Bach Choir, the Concord Ensemble, and Theatre of Voices in El Niño with the Atlanta Symphony, at Chicago's Ravinia Festival, Malmo Opera in Sweden and Den Norske Opera in Oslo. He sang the title role of Philip Glass' Akhnaten with Oakland Opera to much acclaim and appeared in Mexico City at the 31st Festival Internacional Cervantino. An active conductor, he has been a regular guest conductor for the Madison Early Music Festival and for the San Francisco Early Music Society. He has recorded for the Dorian, Harmonia Mundi, and Glissando labels.

    The LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE, led by Music Director Grant Gershon and celebrating its 42nd season, is in its third season as the resident chorus at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Recognized as one of the world's premier choirs, the chorus received the prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming. Founded in 1964, the Chorale was the first organization in the nation to offer a complete season of great choral masterworks. In addition to presenting its own concert series at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Chorale performs regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Chorale has recorded two CDs under Gershon's baton and previously released three CDs under the baton of Music Director Emeritus Paul Salamunovich, including the Grammy-nominated Lauridsen-Lux Aeterna. The Chorale is also featured on the soundtracks of numerous major motion pictures.

    LOS ANGELES CHILDREN'S CHORUS (LACC), Anne Tomlinson, director, provides a comprehensive music education and performance program serving children from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Now beginning its 20th season the Chorus has over 240 choristers in five choirs. The Concert Choir has sung with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and at the Hollywood Bowl. In recent years choristers performed with the Los Angeles Opera in Turandot, Magic Flute, La bohème, Tosca, La damnation de Faust, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Carmen, Der Rosenkavalier and the world premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox.


    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2005, AT 11 AM

    SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2005, AT 8 PM

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2005, AT 2 PM


    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, conductor

    DAWN UPSHAW, soprano

    MICHELLE DEYOUNG, mezzo-soprano

    SIR WILLARD WHITE, bass-baritone

    DANIEL BUBECK, countertenor

    BRIAN CUMMINGS, countertenor

    PAUL FLIGHT, countertenor

    LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE, Grant Gershon, music director

    LOS ANGELES CHILDREN'S CHORUS, Anne Tomlinson, director

    Adams El Niño

    Tickets ($16 -$129) are on sale now at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office, online at, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For all information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Adam Crane, 213.972.3422; Rachelle Roe, 213 972.7310; Photos: 213.972.3034