For a few fleeting hours on Tuesday, April 20, USD Music professor Chris Adler transformed the Manchester Conference Center into a concert hall where music of intense complexity and intricate structure would leave an indelible impression on all in attendance.
The focus of Adler’s presentation was the music and legacy of world-renowned composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, recipient of the Inamori Foundation’s 25th annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Philosophy.
For Adler, the presentation served as a wonderful opportunity to share the work of an artist who is perceived as equal parts innovator and iconoclast by his critics as well as his contemporaries.
“Boulez speaks with a musical language many have never heard,” he said. “The radicalism of his music has somewhat softened with time, but the scope of his work continues to challenge and inspire.”
A trailblazer in the musical method known as Serialism, Boulez, 85, was scheduled to lecture and perform on Thursday at the University of San Diego as part of the Kyoto Prize Symposium, but was forced to cancel his appearance due to the lingering effects of last week’s volcano eruption in Iceland on global air travel.
Much to the delight of Adler and the hundreds of scheduled attendees, Thursday’s event, which will take place at Shiley Theatre from 3:30-5 p.m., will go on as scheduled, thanks in large part to the enthusiastic support of three luminaries from the San Diego music community.
The famed Jahja Ling, music director of the San Diego Symphony, will provide introductory remarks for the presentation. Patrons will then be treated to a performance of selected excerpts from Boulez’s seminal work “Sur Incises,” which will be conducted by Steven Schick, a distinguished professor of music at UC San Diego and a consulting artist in percussion at the Manhattan School of Music. Schick’s primary job is musical director and conductor of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus.
The presentation will close with a lecture on Boulez’s artistic ideologies and techniques narrated by UCSD music professor Philippe Manoury, who worked with Boulez at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, France. Manoury will speak from notes prepared by Boulez himself.
“Obviously, we are disappointed not to have (Boulez) in attendance, but we are equally excited to have his music performed in a venue like Shiley Theatre,” Adler said. “The acoustics really favor instruments like the piano which are strongly featured in this particular work. This promises to be a truly exceptional performance.”
— Mike Sauer