The Kennedy Center

Noseda/ Adams

National Symphony Orchestra: John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - Saturday, March 10, 2018

DIRECT CURRENT National Symphony Orchestra

In celebration of John Adams's 70th birthday year, Gianandrea Noseda conducts Adams's expansive composition for chorus, soloists, and orchestra depicting Jesus's final weeks as told from the unique perspective of Mary Magdalene.

This event was live streamed on Facebook Live and Medici.TV, including a pre-show talk with John Adams and the full concert of John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary. Video embedded below.

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To celebrate John Adams at 70, the NSO performed the D.C. premiere of the American composer’s Passion oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which has been hailed as "an extraordinary work, containing some of Adams’s richest, most daring music" (The New York Times). An impassioned and daring composition for chorus, soloists, and orchestra, Adams's unorthodox retelling depicts Jesus’s final weeks from the viewpoints of Mary Magdalene and her siblings, Martha and Lazarus, imbuing an old form with contemporary sounds, ancient texts with new material, and a traditional story with modern meaning.

The program starred mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, who reprised her "utterly convincing" (Los Angeles Times) account of the title role, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor Zach Borichevsky, and countertenors Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Nathan Medley, as well as the University of Maryland Concert Choir. The work's two Kennedy Center performances also represent a highlight of Gianandrea Noseda’s much-anticipated first season as Music Director of the NSO.

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Pre-Show Talk With John Adams

Full Concert

NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda's notes on the program:
"I’m always excited when I have to delve into a score that is completely new to me, and this celebration of John Adams is no exception. Studying new music pushes me to revitalize my artistic approach, and the involvement of a chorus, vocal soloists, and the NSO in this work in particular presents an opportunity and a challenge to bring together many musical forces.

"The vocal element in this piece and its contact with the Orchestra, present in many of my favorite pieces to conduct, encourages instrumentalists to think about phrasing and shaping their sound in a fashion similar to singers. We bring these textures together in Adams’s music depicting Jesus’s final weeks as told from the unique perspective of Mary Magdalene, one of his closest followers and a mysterious and much-debated figure in this narrative. Premiered in 2012, Adams’s grand, ambitious score brings the gravity of this biblical tale into striking contemporary terms, and his carefully crafted orchestration balances maturity and innovation in a way that highlights the extraordinary potency of his compositional style."


Saturday, Mar. 10 at 6:30 p.m.: ForeWords: "The Ministry of Mary Magdalene"
John Adams took part in this far-reaching, one-of-a-kind talk before the second performance of the Gospel According to the Other Mary. To investigate some of the themes underpinning his oratorio and the ways they resonate today, he was joined by Sister Helen Prejean--the influential death penalty abolitionist whose first book Dead Man Walking inspired both the film and opera of that name (presented by Washington National Opera in the winter of 2017)--and her fellow Christian thinkers Dr. Sherry Davis Molock, Associate Professor of Psychology and the Director of Clinical Training at The George Washington University, Yolanda Pierce, Dean of the Howard University Divinity School, and Susan Timoney, Secretary, Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, Archdiocese of Washington.

This event is part of the Kennedy Center's annual new celebration DIRECT CURRENT--an immersive showcase for cutting-edge contemporary arts and culture with a focus on interdisciplinary creations.

Performance Timing: Part One - 65 min.; Intermission - 15 min.; Part Two - 65 min.

Note: There is no late seating once Part One of the concert has begun. Please allow sufficient time to arrive at the Kennedy Center and be seated in the Concert Hall before the performance begins.

Program & Notes