“Richard and I immediately bonded over our shared love of electronic music, stuff like [British electronic musician] Square pusher and [Irish-British composer and musican] Aphex Twin,” he recalled.
“So it always made sense to me to write something electronic for the ACO one day, even though the electric violin is completely new territory for me.”
Electric violins can be treated to sound like “anything you want”, Adams points out, with some having up to seven strings compared to the standard model’s four. He admits that these limitless possibilities posed a challenge to writing Echo Transcriptsnot helped by the fact that he only had five months to do so.
“I had to strike that right balance between doing something that was meaningful to Richard, paying homage to his expertise as an acoustic violinist, while allowing for the possibility of sonic exploration,” he says.
“I suppose I could have turned the violin into some kind of crazy, beating noise machine, but for this piece I heard something resonant and echoing. More than anything, it’s about melody – there’s a simplicity and straightforwardness that you wouldn’t find in my music before the pandemic.
Although electric violins have been around in one form or another for around 100 years, Tognetti says little music has been written expressly for them, and they remain somewhat on the fringe – to his knowledge no one else at the ACO don’t play the trendy violin. version of the device.
He acknowledges that it takes work to switch between acoustic and electric mindsets.
“When we played at Brett’s Electric preludesI deliberately challenged myself to play one of Mozart’s violin concertos in the same programme,” says Tognetti.
“It has to become like a bilingual person switching from one language to another.”
But besides the wide sound possibilities they present, Tognetti also appreciates the theatricality of the electric violin, where shapes and colors can vary considerably.
Whoever started the ACO when he became its artistic director in 1990, thinking it would give them the drive of a rock band, once landed a gig with Crowded House thanks to his electric violin playing.
And he had fun with the bling-y model he brought to the Life & Hobbies Photo shoot.
“It looks like something Liberace would have played,” he said.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra plays Samuel Adams Echo Transcripts as part of The Americana program of American composers including Morton Feldman, Bryce Dessner and John Adams, on tour in Australia from November 11 to 23.