Quick, without looking: Name a contemporary classical composer other than Philip Glass. Chances are you said John Adams. For a still-active composer to achieve a modicum of name recognition today is no small feat. Yet such limited company means that Adams and Glass will forever be unfairly lumped together. Thus, Adams’ work is often lazily characterized as minimalism, a style he has derided as “those Great Prairies of non-event.” While the two share common threads, Adams is more full-throated than the zen Glass, taking cues from Schoenberg’s degenerate art rather than Godard’s new wave. This weekend, Adams will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra as it performs his 1989 piece The Wound Dresser. Like opusus centered on the atomic bomb, 9/11, and the Nixon Administration, this operatic interpretation of Walt Whitman’s Civil War memoirs is one of the many works Adams has based on bummer historical events.
THE PERFORMANCE TAKES PLACE AT 8 P.M. (SAME TIME FRIDAY) AT THE KENNEDY CENTER CONCERT HALL, 2700 F ST. NW. $20 – 85. (800) 444-1324.