News

Schoenberg: Losing Earth WP and more 19/20 highlights

Schoenberg: Losing Earth WP and more 19/20 highlights

Losing Earth, Adam Schoenberg’s new percussion concerto, was given its premiere by the San Francisco Symphony under Cristian Măcelaru.

In creating the work, Schoenberg worked closely with soloist Jake Nissly, “to make the piece as personally unique and artistically boundary-pushing as possible” (Nissly). The concerto was inspired by an article in the New York Times Magazine entitled “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change”. Reading the piece by Nathanial Rich inspired Schoenberg with the idea of reflecting on climate change in his own musical language.


Losing Earth (2019)

concerto for percussion and orchestra 
3.3.3.2.cbsn - 4.3.2.btrb.1 - timp.6perc - pf.hp.e-bass - str
Duration: 23'
World Premiere: 17.10.2019, San Francisco

Picture of the Losing Earth world premiere by Adam Schoenberg
WP of Losing Earth, San Francisco 2019

Composer's note

When I was first commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony to write this piece, I began to think about the history of percussion and how it can be traced back to the beginning of time. It is the most earthy and grounded of instruments, and in many cultures is considered to be the heartbeat of music. […] The piece begins with a march that is meant to represent our mundane day-to-day existence; the experiences that we inevitably take for granted, as we become absorbed in our daily lives. But as the march progresses, disruptions begin to occur. […]

After the march‐like section comes to a screeching halt, we enter the second section of the piece, which represents the inevitable loss of our beloved coastline. With our sea levels quickly rising, will the majority of this land be under water in a couple of decades? […] The vibraphone sets up a slow, oscillating world that is meant to reflect a sense of being underwater. This is a very atmospheric and dreamy section, featuring multiple string divisions and gentle winds and brass. […]

As the second section comes to an end, a dark texture slowly emerges and helps transition us to the third and final section of the concerto. This represents the imminent call to action that is needed in order to try and save our world.
—Adam Schoenberg


Picture of Jake Nissly and Cristian Măcelaru
WP of Losing Earth, San Francisco 2019

Press quote

"The opening march gives way to an extended reverie for vibraphone and gongs, which represent the slowly-encroaching ocean. Whispery textures in the strings and brass support Nissly’s delicate ringing and chiming. This movement, and especially the transition to the finale, contain the concerto’s finest scoring. Soloist and orchestra each have defined sonic roles, and yet their timbres combine to form a shimmering texture that swelled enchantingly through Davies Hall. The closing movement is the most energetic, expressing both alarm and optimism. The former is provided by scoring that at times sounds literally like alarm bells, a wake-up call that our Earth is in peril."
San Francisco Classical Voice, 21 October 2019


Score of Losing Earth




Performances 2019/20

Adam’s busy 2019/20 season began with the European premiere followed by a U.S. tour of his violin concerto for Anne Akiko Meyers, Orchard in Fog, and with a Los Angeles Area Emmy award for his soundtrack to the 2018 television documentary, That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles


Losing Earth (2019)

concerto for percussion and orchestra with Jacob Nissly
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Cristian Măcelaru (cond.)
17.-18.10.2019, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, USA
View score


Orchard in Fog (2017)

concerto for violin and orchestra with Anne Akiko Meyers
“Mihail Jora” Philharmonic Orchestra from Bacau, Jayce Ogren (cond.)
07.09.2019, Radio Hall, Bucharest, Romania
09.09.2019, Ateneu Concert Hall, Bacau, Romania

Boise Philharmonic, Eric Garcia (cond.)
20.-21.09.2019, Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, Boise, ID

Louisville Orchestra, Teddy Abrams (cond.)
28.09.2019, Kentucky Center, Louisville, KY

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, José-Luis Novo (cond.)
28.-29.02.2020, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD
01.03.2020, Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, MD

Iris Orchestra, Michael Stern (cond.)
07.03.2020, Germantown Performing Arts Center, Germantown, TN
View score


Canto (2014)

for orchestra
University of Akron Symphony Orchestra, Guy Victor (cond.)
26.09.2019, First Congregationalist Church of Akron, Akron, OH

Long Island Youth Orchestra, Scott Dunn (cond.)
26.01.2020, Madison Theatre, Rockville Centre, NY
View score


Picture Studies (2012)

for orchestra
Auburn Symphony Orchestra, Wesley Schulz (cond.)
13.10.2019, Auburn Performing Arts Center, Auburn, WA

Chattanooga Symphony, Kayoko Dan (cond.)
30.04.2020, Tivoli Theater, Chattanooga, TN
View score


Reflecting Light (2006)

for brass quintet
Wisconsin Brass Quintet
16.10.2019, Mead Witter Concert Hall, Madison WI
View score


Finding Rothko (2006)

for chamber orchestra
South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Delta David Grier (cond.)
23.11.2019, Washington Pavilion, Souix Falls, SD

Omaha Symphony, Thomas Wilkins (cond.)
12.01.2020, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE

Chicago Sinfonietta, Mei-Ann Chen (cond.)
7.03.2020, Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville, IL
9.03.2020, Orchestra Hall, Chicago, IL

Colorado Symphony, Brett Mitchell (cond.)
27.03.2020, Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO
View score


Winter Music (2012)

for woodwind quintet
Los Angeles Wind Quintet
13.03.2020, Recital Hall, Wilmington, CA
15.03.2020, Pacific Unitarian Church, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
View score


Go (2016)

for orchestra
Orchestra Santa Monica, Roger Kalia (cond.)
14.03.2020, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, Santa Monica, CA
View score





Photos: Stefan Cohen