The Knights Invite Listeners to Help 'Finish' John Adams Piece

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Eric Jacobsen leads The Knights in The Greene Space Eric Jacobsen leads The Knights in The Greene Space (Matthew Septimus)

Well before the term "crowdsourcing" arose, the composer John Adams was inviting performers to help him complete his 1973 composition, Christian Zeal and Activity. The concept was simple: he supplies a hymn-like score of slow-moving, elegiac chords; the performer provides "sonic found objects," which they insert into the composition.

On Wednesday night, The Knights, WQXR's ensemble-in-residence, performed Adams's piece in The Greene Space, with a twist: Instead of finding a taped audio sample of their own, they turned to WQXR's listeners. Some 40 to 50 audio pieces were submitted using Indaba Music, the online music creation Web site.

"We wanted to find something that would go well with the music that's already written," Josh Frank, the orchestra's trumpeter told Jeff Spurgeon. "There's also been a recording made of this piece already so we were sensitive to this as well. We wanted to find something that takes it to the next level."

The winner of the Knights's contest was David Minnick, a composer, music producer and college professor from Waterford, Michigan. As he explains here, the audio he submitted was left on a beat-up tape deck that he purchased at a garage sale.

Listen to the full performance of Christian Zeal and Activity with Minnick's audio layered into the piece:

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