Yuja Wang to premiere John Adams concerto

Yuja Wang to premiere John Adams concerto


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2018

Here are the plans, just announced, for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s centennial. Watch out also for a world premiere of Steve Reich’s Music for Ensemble and Orchestra, conducted by Susanna Mälkki.


– Premieres of over 50 commissions – the LA Phil’s unprecedented investment in music’s future

– 20 programs conducted by Dudamel, ranging from the world premiere of John Adams’ piano concerto with Yuja Wang as soloist to a climactic performance of Mahler‘s monumental “Symphony of a Thousand” in its Walt Disney Concert Hall premiere

– Cross-disciplinary collaborations with Benjamin Millepied, L.A. Dance Project and American Ballet Theatre for Romeo and Juliet; LA Phil Artist-Collaborator and MacArthur Fellow Yuval Sharon for exceptional performances of Meredith Monk’s ATLAS and John Cage’s Europeras 1 & 2; composer-conductor Christopher Rountree and the Getty Research Institute for an ongoing Fluxus festival; and Barry Edelstein and The Old Globe for The Tempest

– The return of former LA Phil Music Directors Esa-Pekka Salonen and Zubin Mehta, plus a new work by former Music Director André Previn, along with special programs by former Principal Guest Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas

– Major events include the 11-day eclectic season kick-off LA Fest, a Fluxus Festival and a multi-part Stravinsky focus led by Esa-Pekka Salonen

– Programs celebrating the relationship between movies and music, pairing the orchestra with screenings of excerpts from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces and a celebration of scores by John Williams

– Appearances by internationally celebrated musicians, including Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Andrew Bird, Yefim Bronfman, Lila Downs, Mirga Grazinytė-Tyla, Hélène Grimaud, Marc-André Hamelin, LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz Herbie Hancock, Lang Lang, La Santa Cecilia, Audra McDonald, Moby, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Murray Perahia, Bernadette Peters, Itzhak Perlman, Cécile McLorin Savant and many more

Gustavo Dudamel said: “I have been thrilled to help define and shape the LA Phil over the past decade of our great history, when we have worked with such enthusiasm to make ourselves more diverse, more inclusive, and more engaged with our community, while pushing ourselves every day to make music that is magnificent and courageous. This Centennial season, which focuses so strongly on artistic breakthroughs and inspired educational projects, such as our new YOLA center, is going to carry us forward with new momentum.”

Simon Woods said: “The LA Phil has earned the reputation of being the orchestra that dares to do more, whether it’s for the diverse range of today’s composers or for the fast-changing communities that we work within and serve. As I look ahead toward this Centennial season, I feel that Gustavo and the artistic team have not just stood by the wager they’ve made on boldness and innovation but have doubled down on it. LA Phil 100 is indeed a celebration of everything that has led us to this moment – but, more importantly, it is a new beginning for wonderful things to come for this great orchestra and those who are inspired by its music making.”


  • Jon Eiche says:

    An obvious choice of performer for a minimalist composer. (Someone had to say it.)

    • Chris Walsh says:

      Really? Why is she an obvious choice? I’m not aware that she specialises in contemporary music of any kind, let alone minimalism (and John Adams would whack you over the head for describing him as a minimalist).

      • Jon Eiche says:

        It seems my attempt at humor missed the mark. She’s as famous for her skimpy concert attire as for her playing.

        • Sue says:

          Good call!! She’s starting to look cheap.

          • Mark says:

            Starting ??? This train has not only left the station, it has reached the destination and crashed years ago …

          • La Verita says:

            Hey! The girl plays better than just about anybody – so leave her alone! But yes, one wishes her outfits would leave more to the imagination.

          • Mark says:

            @La Verita Better than anybody, really ? Kissin, Sokolov, Argerich, Bronfman, Trifonov – just a few names for your consideration …

        • Rgiarola says:

          It was a good joke. Don’t worry, I was misunderstood here very recently too.

          The other joke is about the coverage that LA Philharmonic always has here. It is a nice season for sure, but there are many others and even better ones never mentioned in slliped disc. At the begining I thought It was due to Borda, but now It’s seems that it is really all about curlies. All that bet 10 years ago, and now it’s going to be a 25 yrs something like Ozawa/Boston in the best forecast for the next 15 yrs

        • Chris Walsh says:

          Whoops! Missed that. Sorry – good gag.

        • Una says:

          Yes, American humor, as opposed to British humour!!! Yes, we tend to miss each others!

    • Karen says:

      And she really should consider playing Rachmaninov piano concertos in a burka.

    • harold braun says:

      His no minimalist composer anymore,at least for 20 years now.Maybe you should listen a bit before writing such nonsense

      • Hilary says:

        True, though his best work on the whole comes from the more minimalist phase.

        • harold braun says:

          don´t think so….

        • M2N2K says:

          For my taste, most of his music written during last two decades is far more interesting than his earlier works that were much closer to so-called minimalist style. Among the pieces I heard and performed, my favorite musically is his The Gospel According To The Other Mary completed in 2012.

    • Caravaggio says:

      “The 4’33” Mini And-Getting-Shorter Suite For Piano and Little Else”
      by John Adams

  • Minutewaltz says:

    Good to see Lang Lang on the list – does this mean his left arm is finally better?

  • William Osborne says:

    An impressive roster of activities, but something seems wrong. What happens to the larger cultural landscape when one institution consumes half a billion dollars? Why 50 premieres in one year when they are so rare the rest of the time? Are there not more rational ways of distributing money? Why so much money for just one orchestra? Is this about art, or an ostentatious statement of power by a city trying to counter its association with cultural tackiness? Will this season of the LA Phil be the Hearst Castle of classical music?

    Many Americans think it’s normal for major cities to have just one full time symphony orchestra, but that is not the norm internationally. In Europe, cities comparable to those where our top orchestras are, usually have about five to nine full time orchestras. For example, London has 9, Berlin 7, Munich 7, Paris 9, and Vienna 7. They usually aren’t as well paid as our top orchestras, but the cities provide full time employment to 5 to 10 times as many classical musicians, which requires a much higher outlay of funding.

    This is possible due to Europe’s public arts funding systems. With so many more orchestras per city, they reach a much larger demographic. They also provide a much richer training ground for conductors and composers, which is one of the reasons Americans are relatively rare at the top in these fields, especially for a country our size. Below I list the full time orchestras for each of these five cities I mention.

    + London Symphony Orchestra
    + London Philharmonic
    + Royal Philharmonic
    + Philharmonia
    + BBC Symphony Orchestra
    + BBC Concert Orchestra
    + Royal Opera Orchestra
    + English National Opera Orchestra
    + London Sinfonietta

    + L’Orchestre National de Radio-France
    + Orchestre de Paris
    + Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
    + L’Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris
    + Ensemle Intercontemporain
    + Orchestre de Chambre de Paris
    + Orchestre des Concerts Pasdeloup.
    + Orchestre Colonne
    + Orchestre Lamoureux
    (The Paris Opera Orchestra has 170 members since the services must be rotated to meet demand. The last two orchestras are more marginal and have lesser status.

    + Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    + Bavarian Radio Unterhaltungs Orchestra
    + Munich Philharmonic
    + Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
    + Gärtnerplatz Opera Orchestra
    + Munich Symphoniker
    + Munich Chamber Orchestra

    + Vienna Philharmonic
    + Vienna Symphoniker
    + Vienna State Opera Orchestra
    + Vienna State Radio Orchestra
    + Volksoper Orchestra
    + Klangforum Wien
    + Tonkünstlerorchester

    (The VPO and State Opera Orchestra use the same personnel, but the ensemble has 149 positions so that they can rotate the services.)

    + Berliner Philharmoniker
    + Konzerthausorchester Berlin
    + Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
    + Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
    + Orchester der Staatsoper Unter den Linden/Staatskapelle Berlin
    + Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
    + Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin

    • Sir Kitt says:

      Can’t speak for any of the other cities, but the London Sinfonietta is definitely NOT a full-time ensemble.

      • William Osborne says:

        True. I will delete the Sinfonietta from my list — leaving London with a mere 8 full time orchestras…

    • FS60103 says:

      Of course, Los Angeles is not directly comparable with London: it’s neither the USA’s largest city, nor its capital. Birmingham or Manchester would be a more valid comparison, and when you consider that LA does in fact have numerous other orchestras – including those in Long Beach and Pasadena, the LA Opera Orchestra (since we’re counting opera orchestras in other cities), plus the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, not mentioning the LA Chamber Orchestra (well, if you’re going to call the London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Intercontemporain “orchestras”) – it doesn’t emerge badly. Unless, of course, one wants it to…

      • William Osborne says:

        Even if one eliminated half the orchestras in London, LA would still compare badly — with its metro area of around 15 million and the third largest metro GDP in the world. As for opera orchestras, London is in the top ten cities in the world for opera performances per year. LA doesn’t even make the top 100. And this is to say nothing of the other cities I list. It is Americans who do not want to see the truth.

        • William Osborne says:

          And if you want to compare classical music in capital cities think of Washington. No, let’s not even go there. Or better yet, let’s just pretend…

      • William Osborne says:

        And do you really want to compare the seasons of Long Beach and Pasadena with the 8 full time orchestras in London?

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Any time any American city wants to establish one or more year-round, publicly-funded opera company and orchestra they are perfectly free to do so. Nothing and no one is stopping them.

    • MacroV says:

      Just how do the London orchestras count as full-time? Virtually all their concerts are one-offs – even the LSO apparently can’t sell out two performances of any program – and for the most part they play no more programs in a season than a major US orchestra. They manage to be full-time if they tour and do recording (which they tend to do more than US orchestra due to significantly lower fees). But on the whole I doubt London has more symphony concerts in a year than does LA or Chicago, even with all those orchestras. Only has two halls, after all.

      Moscow also has a lot of orchestras, though I don’t know how many are full-time, but their model seems similar to London.

      • William Osborne says:

        These London orchestras have substantial year-round seasons and the musicians receive full time salaries with benefits (except for the Sinfonietta which shouldn’t be on the list.) As do all the orchestras in the other cities I mention. The only exception would be the last two orchestras in Paris I list, but that still leaves Paris with 7 full time orchestras. It’s true that Moscow also has several full time orchestras, and ranks in the top ten in the world for opera performances per year. LA and Washington don’t even make it into the top 100. These are realities Americans simply cannot face and so they make every excuse possible in order not to face the truth.

    • Rgiarola says:

      Mr Osborne is comparing capital cities of countries with strong classdical/orchestral tradition, plus State direct support, with an private orchestra in the west coast that still fight to be accepted as top notch by it’s own country more snob cultural elite.

      It is the same reason why, there are much more fuzz about the position of MD in places like Berlin Philharmonic than LA.

    • Eric says:

      To compare the amount of ensembles within any given city doesn’t exactly make an apples to apples argument. LA has more thane more ensemble (there’s also LA Chamber Orchestra, and several small opera companies, in addition to several pioneering flexible ensembles). But, LA has done something different than more examples in your list. They consistently program music from across a wider spectrum, and for them, this is the norm. While their 100th season programming is particularly dynamic, there are chestnuts in the season, too. The culture of the audience there is one that expects their local orchestra to program with an air of adventurism, perhaps to the point that it doesn’t feel risky – it feels normal. These cities are different, the ensembles are often programming for the tastes and curiosities of their local audiences. that’s not to say that audiences in London or Berlin, or wherever, aren’t as adventurous – but you really can’t make an fair apples to apples assessment based on your criteria.

      • William Osborne says:

        The irony is that Salonen started LA’s practice of innovative programming, especially adding a good deal of new music. He modeled this after European radio orchestras, especially those in the Nordic countries, which is where LA’s innovations actually have their roots. But of course, LA now claims it was all their own invention. Most Americans don’t know this, because they are unfamiliar with the radio orchestras of Europe. For a bit of context, it was telling that before Dudamel took over LA he first worked a lot with the orchestra in Göteborg, exactly where Salonen also developed his career and programming concepts.

        • Eric says:

          I’m definitely not denying that the culture change at the LAPhil in terms of programming changed with Salonen, and continued going forward. But, it’s been a generation of this sustained forward-looking vision, in a way that most American orchestras do not do. And many European orchestras still do not. How many of these radio orchestras still program so modern?

        • Karen says:

          The difference with LA Phil is its success in incorporating substantial new music, despite of minimal government funding. You cannot claim that is something European radio orchestras achieved.

          And in the context that the US doesn’t even have universal health care yet, public arts funding is very, very low priority.

  • Karen says:

    Why don’t you look up LA Phil’s sources of income and number of premieres in the past seasons before wasting your time copying and pasting?

    “Is this about art, or an ostentatious statement of power by a city trying to counter its association with cultural tackiness?”

    Government funding accounts for less than 1% of LA Phil’s income. What are you talking about here?

    • William Osborne says:

      I’m talking about the negative effects created by the lack of government funding.

      • Anon says:

        Have you considered many Americans do NOT want the government to support an art form where its consumers openly call without scruples a leading artist prostitute in public forum because they can’t bear to see a miniskirt? Have you considered many intellectually curious people just don’t want to be associated with such a toxic crowd? Why should government money be spent on this art form, again?

      • Ravi Narasimhan says:

        In reading this blog, ArtsJournal, and other sites it seems that arts in England means what’s happening in London. Your stats back that up.

        Could LA support more mid to large sizes arts orgs? Possibly. No one has cracked the problem of which cities are considered arts destinations and which aren’t. People will go to London to say that they’ve checked off cultural boxes. Same with NY. Ask them about what they saw or heard and you get what they’ve been told to see or hear.

        Deborah Borda did a lot of good things here. Among them was getting big donors to give. That group likes to get recognition and big orgs get bigger splash. Public funding of anything in the US is on par with gun control and neither will get better anytime soon. The LAPhil does get Hollywood Bowl benefits as do others but it is largely privately funded with for now non profit status. We will see what shakes out after the tax law changes.

        LA does have a good amount of cultural events which will unfortunately never get any visibility. Young people with ideas and drive will do good work against the odds. The developers watch where they go and when there’s a critical mass of progress they swoop in and drive them out. This then repeats in different neighborhoods as one group of youngsters burn out and the next tries. It is a moveable feast for those who bother to look for it if they can overlook the brutality of the kitchen.

        Would public funding help other orgs? Yes but it is unlikely to happen. And this is all not in the mainline of the people who will he approached for the $500M campaign.

        • William Osborne says:

          The point is that a city that raises half a billion dollars for an orchestra’s centennial could be funding the arts more intelligently. The problem is that plutocracy and intelligence don’t mix well.

          • Karen says:

            You are starting to sound jealous. LA Phil in the past could command nowhere near the budget it has today. But now it is the most financially secure orchestra in the US with the most adventurous programming. Maybe you should think about what changed for that organization instead of whining about lack of public funding.

            Why should taxpayers pay for orchestras that play the same old repertoire all the time? And no, lack of public funding is not an excuse for regressive programming. Again, look at LA Phil.

          • Ravi Narasimhan says:

            “Yes, but when you’re off the A-list for one party you’re off for all of them. From now on I’ll be relegated to B-list charity events. Grubby little theatre companies and last year’s diseases. ” — Niles Crane on ‘Frasier’

            William Osborne: “The problem is that plutocracy and intelligence don’t mix well.”

            Yes, the problem with tainted money is that it t’ain’t yours and it t’ain’t mine. Public institutions and the taxes that funded them have been under assault in California for decades. I remember excellent public schools and universities but those days are long gone and they’re scrapping for dollars as is everyone. Same story elsewhere in the U.S.

            William Osborne: “The point is that a city that raises half a billion dollars for an orchestra’s centennial could be funding the arts more intelligently. ”

            I’d be curious how this would work. The city isn’t funding the arts – it’s got its hands full with other problems for which there is also no money. It’s the people in the city with the money that you’re after. Borda got the plutocrats to donate to her org when they didn’t before. What are some practical methods to get wealth that ordinarily seeks other wealth to support a smaller organization, start a new one, or in general do something other than make a large org even larger?

          • William Osborne says:

            The first and essential step is to raise consciousness. Most Americans do not even know that major European cities have multiple orchestras. Much less that they also have far more intelligent funding models. Let’s make people aware of the problem. Only then we can we start talking solutions. (Oh wait, there is no problem. I’m just jealous……)

          • Karen says:

            Do you also complain about the lack of multiple orchestras per city in Asian countries? Maybe there simply isn’t as much demand in America for European music as in Europe? If anything your obsession with multiple orchestras per city reveals a disturbing white-centric view.

            Your base assumption that bureaucrats are intrinsically better judges than billionaires for sensible allocation of funds towards arts is also problematic.

            I agree public funding of arts could and should be improved in US. But I don’t believe orchestras as they are now really deserve it. Let them take the initiative to change first.

          • Ravi Narasimhan says:

            Replying here due to the nesting limits on replies.

            William Osborne: “The first and essential step is to raise consciousness. Most Americans do not even know that major European cities have multiple orchestras. Much less that they also have far more intelligent funding models. Let’s make people aware of the problem. Only then we can we start talking solutions.”

            I’m sorry but I think the past 8+ years of US politics indicate that raising consciousness, awareness of problems, and public ie. tax based answers doesn’t go over in the US. I’m talking well beyond the arts here at the general thrusterduck in Washington all the way down to local crises. The prevailing opinion is that you go into crippling debt or seek crowdfunding if you need education or medical care. I don’t think adding another orchestra in LA or anywhere else on public money will move anyone’s meter.

            Thanks for the thoughtful discussion.

  • GaryJ says:

    Reich and Adams…yawn. Way past their sell-by date.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    Adams did write some promising music early on, but he’s run out of ideas. Any one of us could have written this in their sleep under his name, and no one would be the wiser. The technical challenges shouldn’t pose a problem for Wang as there are next to none in his music. One only needs to have the stamina to stay awake. At least Thibaudet had the good sense to steer clear of this.

  • Ben says:

    I am looking forward to the Escort Concerto No (3 x 2)/(3 x 3) in F Flat Middle by YW, even the programmme note may list a completely different name.


    • ANON says:

      What do you mean by “Escort Concerto”? Are you saying Yuja Wang is actually a prostitute? I don’t understand. Do explain, please.

  • harold braun says:

    Looking forward to that…actually it´s his 2nd piano concerto,after”Century Rolls” for Manny Ax.

  • harold braun says:

    The program itself is fantastic!!!!!!!!!!

  • Allegri miserere. says:

    I’ve worked and toured many times with Yuja. She’s an extraordinary musician, aware of the orchestral players with whom she tours and produces encore after encore with that bit of a technique! As for her dress sense….so what! Lots of unnecessary comments here. Do any of you play or are you keyboard warriors from the school of Qwerty?!

  • Jerome Hoberman says:

    The difference in arts-cultural saturation between major European cities and North American ones isn’t only one of public vs. private financing. Here in East Asia (Hong Kong, to be precise), the music the ensembles mentioned above play is referred to as “European Classical Music,” not “European/North American Classical Music.” How many jazz clubs do those European cities support?

    • William Osborne says:

      Actually, the American jazz scene would have all but vanished if it had not been massively supported by Europeans from about 1960 to 2000. Much of the record of the art form we have during those years comes from European recordings and video broadcasts created by their state radio networks.

      But you are right that America has no connection to European classical music. We should stick to banjos and washtub basses while smoking our corn cob pipes. The orchestras in NYC, Boston, Philly, Cleveland, LA, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and San Francisco show that we have little connection to European culture….. (sarc off)

      • Ravi Narasimhan says:

        Let’s all square dance! Places all… bow to your corner, bow to your own
        Three hands up and around you go
        Break it up with a do-say-do
        Chicken in the bread pan kickin’ out dough
        Skip to my Lou my darlin’
        — From ‘Hillbilly Hare’ Warner Bros. 1950

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    What is most important is that new works are commissioned and performed, recorded when possible. In decades to comes, we will need these works to draw upon for future instrumentalists to perform. True, the bigger money orchestras can afford to pay the high price tags, but there are also numerous orchestras commissioning and co-commissioning new works by many composers. They might not be seen as broadly as the bigger situations due to publicity dollars etc. But they are indeed happening. That would require another blog post if NL wishes. As long as new music gets composed, there will be old music. Most of the time, when we look up new repertoire, the most important details are duration, instrumentation and the synopsis /reason for the composition–and, if the composer is still alive, would they attend the performance?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Umm…plenty of new music gets commissioned. The problem is that it gets played once and then is ignored. I personally think we should give money to orchestras to play music that is still under copyright but has rarely been played. That is the only way any new music will ever join the repertoire.

  • Richard says:

    Apples and Oranges when comparing any major European city and any American city. I mean, who has a better basketball team London or New York? Who has more orchestras is like saying who has more restaurants. The point is having world class ensembles. You can’t even say Los Angeles is like a Manchester…that may be true in terms of quality (maybe) of the orchestra, but a much smaller cities like Boston and of all places Cleveland have world class ensembles, even though LA is the highest paid orchestra.
    Boston has something like 43 orchestras, from the BSO to BMOP to Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Early Music, etc but no major opera company. It’s true the BSO sucks up a lot of the money, but it’s in exchange for supporting a world class orchestra in a small city.

    I thought these comments would be about the commissions and the Adams Concerto. Without a doubt European orchestras are far more adventurous and interesting because they don’t live with the same fear of losing their audiences because of the subsidy. The Boston Symphony has $500 million dollars, but consequently they have no connection to the broader public. They are filled with fear of alienating their “core audience” (very old white people) while places like LA are fearless.
    I look forward to the Adams Concerto as I know he wasn’t happy with his first. And to the comment that Adams is out of ideas, I can point to a number of very successful well received pieces since they Year 2000. But that’s just one commission. It’s a super ambitious season while other big US orchestras are content to play the old chestnuts to the same old crowd, while the middle size orchestras are forced to do interesting things to desperately try to connect with their public,

    Bottom line, they are different systems and I love what the British system yields, but I’m glad I’m not at the mercy of the govt every year for funding. The trade off is that I’m at the mercy of the few wealthy people in most American cities who are content to hear the same old stuff…

    • William Osborne says:

      Apples and oranges is exactly the point. It’s time for the USA to grow up and join the rest of the world with a public arts funding system and similar levels of support for the performing arts. Bad enough to be an apple in this case, and even worse to be a rotten one….

      • Richard says:

        Hey William, thanks for the advice on what my country should be doing. Shall I give you advice on what your country should be doing to “grow up”?

        Newsflash: Americans at large don’t value orchestras very much as part of our “national” identity.

        • William Osborne says:

          Another news flash. I’m an American.

          • M2N2K says:

            In which case you should be aware that many and probably most of your compatriots (including artists themselves) prefer their arts and artists to be dependent on donors who generously give their own money because they like the arts and supporting them, rather than on government bureaucrats who assign other people’s money only because that is their job.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      The greater Boston area has a population of 4.8 million. That’s not a small city. While there are quite a few other groups aside from the BSO, some of them excellent, they are all part time. And while in any given year there are opera performances in Boston, there is no full time established opera house the way we find in any European capital, and in several major cities.

      Let’s compare also Boston to Amsterdam. It’s about twice as populous as greater Amsterdam (2.4 million). For the sake of the argument, let’s avoid comparisons between the BSO and the Concertgebouw, and only say that Amsterdam also has a world class orchestra, as well as a few other excellent full time ones, as well as an a full time opera house.

      I don’t necessarily agree with all of William Osborne’s arguments, but believe he is right in the big picture. While Boston or New York are musically vibrant cities by any standards, they are outliers within the US.

      (On a personal note, European opera houses mean nothing to me, because I refuse to attend regietheater productions.)

  • Richard says:

    My point is that not all countries have the same priorities. Hey UK, how is your space program? How is your Olympic ice hockey team?

    Why do we expect certain European things from American cities…how is the orchestra situation in Nairobi? We should celebrate what the LA Phil is accomplishing.

    P.S. it’s an embarrassment that Boston demolished its opera house. It’s never been the same since.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I am all for a colorful and unhomogenized world, but do feel that the way classical music is financed in the US, it doesn’t get enough bang for its buck. But this is by no means an American phenomenon, and Europe has its own problems too.