The legendary American composer conducts at the Colorado Music Festival

One of today’s greatest classical music composers was in Boulder for the Colorado Music Festival. John Adams has directed two of his own creations and curated other great works for the Festival’s “Week of Today” series.

Composer, bandleader John Adams at the 2022 Colorado Music Festival.


Adams joined longtime friend and Festival Music Director Peter Oundjian as co-conductors for the series of performances. CBS4 caught up with Adams while he was rehearsing his play “City Noir” at Chautauqua Auditorium.

“It’s a symphony, but it’s very jazz-influenced,” Adams said of “City Noir.”

The music is particularly influenced by the kind of jazz you hear in film noir.

“So it’s a bit dark, jazzy, but also a bit violent at times,” Adams added.

The alto saxophone plays the solo in “City Noir” by John Adams.


An alto saxophone is the soloist in the piece – a clear sign that this is modern symphonic music. That’s the goal of “Week of Today” at the Colorado Music Festival.

“I grew up during the period of Jimmy Hendrix and John Coltrane, and all that wonderful 70s music. And that influenced my music,” Adams explained.

In addition to his own music, Adams has worked with Oundjian to bring other living composers to the Festival. Timo Andres has written an opening piece which will be a world premiere. And Adams’ own son, Samuel, has a role in the performance.

The Colorado Music Festival orchestra in rehearsal.


Adams said he brought his whole family to Boulder for his time at the Festival and enjoyed the setting, the Festival and the orchestra.

“The orchestra plays it really well, as they say, ‘I’m in pork heaven,” he said with a smile.

LINK: Colorado Music Festival Tickets and Information

John Adams has performances on Friday July 15, 2022 and Sunday July 17, 2022. The festival runs until August 7

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