John Adams built his career in the 1980s making unique and unmistakable music of pulsing sound masses for large ensembles. But a 1992 commission for a one-of-each-instrument chamber ensemble forced him to fundamentally rethink his music, and it was a combination of Schoenberg and old 1950s-era cartoons that guided him to a new way forward. The dense and manic Chamber Symphony that emerged shocked fans who thought they knew what to expect from Adams, and its ferocious challenges pushed performers to their limits. 15 years after writing the original Chamber Symphony, Adams composed a sequel, called Son of Chamber Symphony, for Alarm Will Sound.
This special performance combines music, recorded interviews with the composer and others, as well as voices from the performers onstage to tell the story of the creation of these two seminal works, and of the struggle required to perform them.