We kick off our 2023 Kings Place season with a kaleidoscope of riotous colour, virtuosity, mischief and musical subterfuge.
At the heart of the programme are two works inspired by the experience of being an outsider in Paris. The ballet sequence from Gershwin’s An American in Paris – immortalised by Gene Kelly and Leslie Carron in the 1951 MGM film – conjures the sense of wonder and romance experienced by an American visitor to the city during the Anées folles, blending musical influences from Ravel and Debussy to American jazz and blues. Half a century later, while studying electronic music for a summer in Paris, the British composer George Benjamin found himself transfixed by the incongruous sounds of a group of Latin American buskers performing in front of the Pompidou Centre. The resulting piece for mixed ensemble and electronics – Antara, named after the Peruvian word for pan pipes – has become one of Benjamin’s defining works.
Created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and originally choreographed for the stage by Nijinsky, Debussy’s Jeux imagines a nocturnal game of hide and seek; our Arranger-in-Residence Iain Farrington has created a chamber orchestra arrangement of Debussy’s intricate score especially for this concert. The programme is completed by the American composer John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons, a virtuosic tour de force for solo clarinet, mixed ensemble and electronics written as a homage to the composer’s clarinet-playing father.