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Thursday 15 July 2021

8:30pm at Hamer Hall

Saturday 17 July 2021

8:30pm at Hamer Hall


Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Lawrence Renes conductor


John Adams Harmonielehre

About this performance

John Adams’ masterpiece Harmonielehre may not be a symphony by name, but it certainly is a symphony by nature. Comprised of three impressive movements, the work, led from the podium by acclaimed Dutch-Maltese conductor Lawrence Renes, is a thrilling combination of romanticism, post-minimalism and symphonic orchestration.

  • Influential composer Arnold Schoenberg’s text Harmonielehre, or “Theory of Harmony”, provided the inspiration behind the name of Adams’ symphonic work. Written in 1910, Schoenberg’s text is still one of the most important tomes on music theory.
  • Composed in 1985, Harmonielehre begins in a startling manner – with 39 E-minor chords. It feels relentless, and perhaps that was intended: the piece was written after a period of relentless creative block. Adams’ had a strange dream after 18 months of no writing and “after [the dream], I sat down in my studio to find, almost as if they were waiting for me, the powerful pounding E-minor chords that launch the piece.”
  • The second movement makes reference to a king who appears in Parsifal – Wagner’s 1882 three-act opera – and also makes musical reference to Sibelius and Mahler.
  • Conductor Lawrence Renes has been a champion of John Adams’ music throughout his career, conducting the first commercial recording of the opera Doctor Atomic with De Nederlandse Opera, and also conducting the UK premiere of the work with the English National Opera.

COVIDSafe information

Arts Centre Melbourne indoor venues are operating at 100% capacity so you may be seated next to other patrons. The MSO and Arts Centre Melbourne strongly recommends the wearing of masks where 1.5m distancing is difficult to achieve, however wearing a mask is no longer a requirement for entry.

Important venue information:

  • QR code registration via a mobile device is required on arrival. We encourage you to download the Service Victoria app prior to your visit to ensure a faster check-in time.
  • Hamer Hall foyer bars will be open pre-show and if there's an interval involved.
  • Personal water bottles will be permitted inside and filtered tap water will be available for self-service at the foyer bars
  • No Cloak Room
  • No Box Office sales or transactions, only available for trouble shooting or ticket collection

Orchestra safety on stage
The safety of our musicians, staff and audience remain the highest priority as we return to the post-COVID concert hall. In conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne, the MSO has begun rapid-result, asymptomatic testing for all members of the Orchestra and on-stage production staff. As such, you may notice that our musicians are not wearing masks while performing, and that they may be spaced more closely together than previously.

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