Barbican’s Traced Overhead festival will showcase Ades's exceptional work

The Barbican will host a major festival featuring the work of young British composer Thomas Adès from March 7. The event coincides with a revival of his second opera The Tempest at the Royal Opera House. Working closely with the Barbican, Adès has program

The Barbican will host a major festival featuring the work of young British composer Thomas Adès from March 7. The event coincides with a revival of his second opera The Tempest at the Royal Opera House.

Working closely with the Barbican, Adès has programmed the concerts, choosing works by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Kurtag and Nancarrow - all of whom have been inspiration to the composer and a musical reflection of his eclectic tastes.

Still in his mid-30s, Adès is considered by many to be one of Britain's brightest music stars and whose accomplishments embrace considerable attainments as a composer, pianist and conductor.

The festival, Traced Overhead, which runs until April 22, will demonstrate Adès's multi-faceted abilities as he works alongside such close associates as the Arditti Quartet, pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and singers Ian Bostridge and Simon Keenlyside.

However, it seems wholly appropriate that his long-term supporter Sir Simon Rattle should lift the curtain on the proceedings. It was Sir Simon who premiered Adès's Asyla with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1997 and then chose this same work to inaugurate his appointment with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sir Simon will open the festival on March 7, conducting his Berlin orchestra in British premiere of Adès's latest orchestral composition, Tevot, following its world premiere in Berlin on February 21.

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The title of this one-movement symphony, Tevot, means in Hebrew "bars of music." The word, in its singular form, appears in the Bible as Teyva, the ark of Noah, and the cradle in which the baby Moses is carried on the river.

Adès explains: "I wanted to write something about the Ark - but not necessarily about Noah's Ark. I posed the question, 'What is an Ark?' The answer is that it is a vessel that carries people or a family through hostile waters to safety.

"Teyvot, the plural, means Arks. Extraordinarily in Hebrew the word also means a bar of music. Continuing this notion of a container, perhaps a 'bar' is a box for safekeeping music. If music wasn't in bars, there would be chaos. So to me it is just an irresistible word to use."

Born in 1971 in North London to a family of Sephardic Jewish origin, Adès studied at the Guildhall School of Music and later read music at King's College, Cambridge.

After Cambridge and between 1993 and 1995, Adès was composer in association with the Halle Orchestra in Manchester. It was during this time that he wrote his first string quartet, Arcadiana, for the Endellion Quartet, whose cellist David Waterman is a Belsize Park resident.

This deeply moving work falls into seven shorter interludes of which 0 Albion, with its direct references to Elgar's Nimrod, is of arresting beauty. In the second concert of the festival on March 7, the Arditti Quartet revisits Arcadiana.

The programme also includes Adès's Living Toys, Chamber Symphony, Five Eliot Landscapes and Les Noces by Stravinsky.

The third concert, later that same evening, includes music by Conlon Nancarrow - Studies for Player Piano, 3 Canons for Ursula and the world premiere of his Piano Study No 7.

There will be four concerts and recitals scheduled for April, starting with Adès showing his gifts at the keyboard when he accompanies tenor Ian Bostridge in a recital of songs by Britten, Kurtag and Schumann that will take place on April 3 at the LSO St Luke's.

Orchestral works by Berlioz, Sibelius, Ives and Stravinsky provide a rich contrast to one of Adès's most striking works, America: A Prophecy, which was a millennium commission from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. In this concert on April 13, he conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Rebecca von Lipinski, Susan Bickley and the BBC Singers.

The much-respected Scharoun Ensemble is formed from members of the Berlin Philharmonic and, on April 17, Adès will join them at the keyboard in performances of Beethoven's Ghost Piano Trio Op 70 No 1, his own Piano Quintet Court Studies from The Tempest and Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with baritone Simon Keenlyside.

The festival ends as Adès takes up the baton with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe on April 22 when he conducts a performance of his violin concerto with violinist Anthony Marwood

Traced Overhead is ambitious in scale and will surely provide a unique insight into the creative mind of a unique musical voice as Adès explores not only his tastes but also his influences and passions.

o Tickets for the concerts and recitals in Traced Overhead: The Musical World of Thomas Adès are £7-£30 for those taking place in the Barbican and £5-£15 and £10-£20 for those in LSO-St Luke's. For full details and booking information, visit the Barbican website at uk/ades.