In July and August Thomas Adès returns to La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest as curator, conductor, and pianist, where his collaborators will include Sean Shibe, Mark Simpson, Augustin Hadelich, and Abeo Quartet.

On 1 August Shibe gives the US premiere of Adès’ Forgotten Dances for guitar, which he premiered at the Wiener Konzerthaus in October 2023 and has since toured internationally. The 20-minute work is cast in six movements. It opens with ‘Overture - Queen of the Spiders’, in which shifting tempi and ornate melodic lines create an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation. ‘Berceuse – Paradise of Thebes’ follows, whose title recalls an episode in Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. ‘Here was a swift’ references Max Ernst and features quicksilver passagework that calls for brilliant virtuosity. ‘Barcarolle – the Maiden Voyage’ offers a more delicate, lyrical contrast to the preceding tumult.

‘Carillon de Ville’ follows, a tribute to Berlioz that begins with delicate pealing before its resounding chords grow denser and more dissonant, ushering in a clamorous end. It concludes with the chaconne-like ‘Vesper’, dedicated to Henry Purcell and based on the Evening Hymn. Forgotten Dances is Adès’ first published work for a solo instrument other than piano.

The concert, part of the Adès takeover, sees the composer conduct Francisco Coll’s Turia for guitar and ensemble with Shibe as soloist, an 18-minute concerto that takes its name from a dried-up riverbed in Coll’s home of Valencia now host to gardens, fountains, and an opera house; the music is suffused with the spirit and gestures of flamenco.  Shibe gave the UK premiere of the piece with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in May 2021 at the East Neuk Festival, with Adès conducting; in March 2024 he also premiered the chamber orchestra version of Turia with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Delyana Lazarova.

On 27 July Mark Simpson is joined by Alexi Kenney and Jay Campbell, with Adès at the piano, for the first US performance of Catch (1991). The 9-minute work for clarinet, piano, violin and cello is structured around various combinations of the quartet, with several games going on: the clarinet is the outsider, the other three are the unit, then, after a decoy entry, the clarinet takes the initiative. All four then play jovial ‘pig-in-the-middle’ with each other. The clarinet is then phased out leaving a sullen piano and cello, with interjections based on the clarinet’s original tune.

The next day Augustin Hadelich joins Adès for a performance of his Suite from ‘The Tempest’.  Written for Christian Tetzlaff and Kirill Gerstein, its four movements are based on key moments from the 2004 opera. The 12 ½-minute piece begins with Caliban’s resentful outburst against his mistreatment by Prospero, both abrasive and melodious; Ariel’s music follows, with unearthly harmonics that recall the stratospheric writing for coloratura soprano in the opera. The penultimate movement’s passacaglia is derived from the reconciliatory quintet from the climax of the opera; the last movement is underpinned by a chaconne. Adès also performs Janáček’s On an Overgrown Path.

Adès will open SummerFest by conducting a new realisation of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat that will feature the participation of the British art ensemble The Paper Cinema. The focus this year follows an acclaimed residency in 2023, which included the US premiere of Alchymia from Mark Simpson, and performances from other Adès champions including the Calder Quartet and Anthony Marwood.