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Thomas Adès (b. 1971) became the hottest voice in British new music following the premiere of his first opera, Powder Her Face, in 1995. He has composed in most genres of concert music, including songs, chamber music, and concertos. His orchestral piece Asyla, premiered in 1997 by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, won the 2000 Grawemeyer Music Award. Adès is also a highly regarded pianist and conductor and he served as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival for ten years. He has also become a popular fixture here at Walt Disney Concert Hall, including On Location residencies and appearances on the Green Umbrella and Baroque Variations series, as well as orchestral concerts.
Adés and cellist Steven Isserlis gave the world premiere of Lieux retrouvés at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2009. The “places” of the title are evocatively described musically: rippling figuration growing to a flood of water, a powerfully striding climb up the mountain, the calm expanse of the fields, and the jittery urban dance of the city. The “rediscovered” aspect is probably not a matter of the physical locations as much as the means of expression, an acquaintance renewed in music of revisited techniques and styles, the patterns of “Les eaux,” for example, suggesting not only the cross-rhythms of Minimalism and the counterpoint of Ligeti, but also the broken style of Adès’ beloved Couperin.