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Classical 101

"Minimalist Jukebox" With L. A. Phil on Classical Showcase

The next Classical Showcase Friday evening at 7 p.m. presents the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with John Adams conducting in three contemporary pieces that were on a program as part of a concert series called "Minimalist Jukebox." Opening the concert this evening is a 10-minute piece from 1999 by Michael Gordon called Sunshine of Your Love, inspired by the 60's British rock group Cream's powerful, and loud, paean to love from their album "Disraeli Gears."  Hearing the album as a youngster, he was drawn by the psychedelic artwork of the cover and the raw energy of the  music.  Since love is one of the most powerful forces in the world, the composer couldn't see why all love songs had to be soft and gentle--why not loud and energetic? Next, from one of the pioneers of minimalism in music,  At the Royal Majestic by Terry Riley, a half-hour composition for organ and orchestra from 2013.  It features organist Cameron Carpenter in a piece whose title evokes the era of grand old movie houses with their large theater organs. In 2008, Riley was commissioned to write a new work for "Hurricane Mama," the new organ in Walt Disney Concert Hall, now the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Some of the music for that piece, The Universal Bridge, became part of this new work we'll hear this evening. Naive and Sentimental Music by John Adams is a three-movement, 45 minute symphony from 1998 that closes the concert. Adams was inspired to write this music after hearing the L. A. Philharmonic perform Anton Bruckner's Fourth Symphony, titled,  The Romantic. The title of Adams' work comes from an essay by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, who also wrote the words to the Ode to Joy, used by Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony.  "On Naive and Sentimental Poetry" is Schiller's attempt to classify all creative artists into essentially two types. Put very simplistically, the "naive" artists seem to create  almost spontaneously, without  inner conflict, like Mozart, Schubert, or Gershwin.  The "sentimental" types are painfully aware of the historical context of their work, and they often seem to struggle long and hard to fulfill their inner vision.  Beethoven, who would struggle with an idea and revise a work for years sometimes, would be perhaps the most famous example. Johan Adams sees himself as trying to embody and express both ideas in his Naive and Sentimental Music that concludes the next concert from the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Classical Showcase here on Classical 101.