Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thomas Adès

London-born composer, conductor and pianist Thomas Adès (b. 1971) is one of the “hot” classical musicians on the current international scene.  He is also an out and proud gay man who, in 2006, entered into a civil partnership with Tal Rosner, an Israeli filmmaker and video artist. The two have worked on many projects together, and their apartment in Covent Garden serves as their center of creativity.

Your blogger was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Polaris, a multi-media work for orchestra and five video screens (music composed by Adès, moving images by Rosner), written for the opening of Miami’s New World Arts Center in January, 2011. The center, designed by superstar architect Frank Gehry, is home to the New World Symphony Orchestra, led by gay conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

London-born Adès graduated in 1992 from King's College, Cambridge, where his degree was classified as 'double starred first', indicating outstanding academic distinction. Success piled upon success. He was made Britten Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music and in 2004 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex. By the age of 36
a retrospective of his work was presented in London, and he was the focus of festivals in France Finland.

Asyla, a work for orchestra, was premiered in 1997 by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and received the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Adès was the youngest ever recipient of this award. Asyla has since been performed across the world, including a tour of the Far East by Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Adès composed a chamber opera, Powder Her Face (1995), which gained immediate notoriety for its musical depiction of fellatio. The Duchess character in the opera was based on the notorious Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, whose scandalous behavior in the 1960s was revealed during her divorce trial when photographs of her various sex acts were introduction into evidence.

This video clip is an excerpt from In Seven Days (2008), a creative collaboration between Adès and Rosner. The work depicts the biblical creation story via piano, video-installation and orchestra.

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