Adès's new orchestral work opens Frank Gehry Arts Center in Miami

Adès's new orchestral work opens Frank Gehry Arts Center in Miami
The synergy between Adès’s music and the phenomena of Frank Gehry’s architecture has been represented through a variety of recitals and concerts at Gehry designed venues over recent years.
On 26 January, one of the opening concerts at the new Gehry-designed arts centre in Miami continued that tradition featuring Adès's latest orchestral piece Polaris, performed by the city's foremost orchestra, the New World Symphony, under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.
The work is a collaboration between Thomas Adès and video artist Tal Rosner – who provided live moving images for projection onto the sail-like acoustic surfaces of the concert hall. 
 
Previously, in 2007, Adès performed at Gehry’s Serpentine Gallery pavilion in London, and Adès has been featured many times at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (another iconic Gehry establishment) as composer, conductor and pianist. This developing relationship between musical and architectural artists Adès and Gehry, meant a natural choice for Adès to be commissioned to write a new work for the inaugural concert at this revolutionary new venue with its opportunity for antiphonal and spatial effects.
 
Polaris was commissioned by the New World Symphony Orchestra, Miami, for the opening of the Frank Gehry arts centre. Partnered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Gulbenkian Foundation, The Barbican, London, and the San Francisco Symphony.
 
In detail: More about the visuals
Tal Rosner's new site defined work is based on the meetings of the sea and is visually inspired by Rockwell Kent's Moby Dick illustrations. The images combine directed scenes with live-action and graphic elements, fully utilizing the matrix of possibilities of the five-screen canvas. 
(The
Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the San Francisco Symphony joined the New World Symphony for the video commission).

In detail: More about the work
Thomas Adès' new work is scored for orchestra including groups of brass instruments which may be isolated from the stage. These instruments always play in canon, once in each of the three sections of the piece, entering in order from the highest (trumpets) to the lowest (bass tuba). Their melody, like all the music in this work, is derived from a magnetic series, a musical device heard here for the first time, in which all twelve notes are gradually presented, but persistently return to an anchoring pitch, as if magnetised. With the first appearance of the twelfth note, marked clearly with the first entrance of the timpani, the poles are reversed. At the start of the third and final section a third pole is discovered which establishes a stable equilibrium with the first. 
The piece is named for Polaris, the North Star, or Pole Star, around which the other stars appear to rotate as if it were itself a magnetic pole, and which has since ancient times been used by seafarers as a navigational tool. 
Programme note by Philip Jones, 2010

Concert previews:
South Florida Classical review
Miami Herald


Press comments:
Polaris proved an intense and hypnotic experience, with the video complementing the music without being so busy that it distracted. As repetitive patterns in the orchestra gained intensity and force, the hall's five curvy projection screens displayed images of waves crashing on rocks and two women walking along the shore. The music intensified as more instruments joined in, with sudden breaks in the music matched by changes in the video. The work built to a big climax and the images vanished, replaced by bubble-like circles.
The visual experience of the performance was different from that to which most classical audiences may be accustomed. The hall is distinctly vertical, with the audience placed not only in front but all around the orchestra. And with the use of risers to give the orchestra itself five levels of seating, it was possible to see the faces of the bassoon players, second violinists and many more musicians, making the ensemble seem less remote from the audience than in traditional concert halls.’
Miami Herald (David Fleshler), 26 January 2011