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Director’s Corner Address from Christopher Kendall

Hirshhorn Museum John Luther Adams concert planned for June 25, 8:00 PM, HMSG Plaza!

We, along with many in the performing arts community, have relished the return to live concerts this season, however precarious: Every performance feels like an act of faith, or at least of hope.

And now, after a wonderful season of concerts, I have some exciting news about upcoming events: the Director of the Hirshhorn, Mellisa Chiu, has expressed a strong and inspiring interest in performance at the museum (witness the current engagement with Laurie Anderson). This interest in the intersection of the visual and auditory is music to our eyes!

So when the Hirshhorn invited us to help celebrate the impending renovation of the Garden into a performance (as well as sculpture)-worthy venue, I proposed Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams’ “Earth and the Great Weather.” An evocation of the geography and spirit of the Arctic seemed like the right work for a sweltering DC summer evening, like Christmas in July. We can only hope for great weather on June 25th at 8:00PM (rain date June 26)! (Get reserved passes at https://hirshhorn.si.edu/event/21st-century-consort-earth-and-the-great-weather-a-sonic-geography-of-the-arctic/) (“The Weather,” of course, is also the title of the current, not-to-be-missed Laurie Anderson show at the Hirshhorn.)

Most of all, “Earth and the Great Weather” is an uncannily timely sonic expression of love and unease about Adam’s far northern home of 40 years, both environmentally and culturally. It’s also immensely complex to produce, with challenges of coordination among performers (including unusual scordatura and just intonation), pre-recorded sounds and voices, digital delay and other electronic matters that were in early states when the piece was composed (1993). We feel very much like trekkers in the Arctic regions, venturing into this epic and timeless work.

One other auspicious dimension of the sculpture garden project: it gives us a chance to announce that next season, we’ll be doing concerts at the Hirshhorn on October 1 and February 4, alternating with a pair of St. Mark’s programs on December 3 and April 29. We’re thrilled to return to our Smithsonian home of almost three decades (1997-2006)!

Christopher Kendall