Anyone got a pipe organ Chris Adler can play? The USD faculty member misses his.
  • Anyone got a pipe organ Chris Adler can play? The USD faculty member misses his.
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Composer, performer, and teacher Christopher Adler credits San Diego with granting him “fellow artists and friends with a shared vision and a commitment to a high-level performance of challenging contemporary music.”

Adler’s fluent on several instruments, including the piano and the khaen, a free-reed wind instrument from the Asian Lao people that sounds like three or four trumpets at once.

But Adler takes a few points off his new hometown for depriving him of the instrument he loved growing up. “For most of my time as a student, I was a pipe organist,” he explains, “and I gave it up only reluctantly after moving to San Diego.... I hope one day to return to the pipe organ.”

A faculty member at University of San Diego since 1999, Adler comments on the city’s avant-garde scene, that “there has always been exciting and exploratory work by committed artists happening within the universities and in the community, but the venues have become more difficult to sustain. And so as a result, it is getting increasingly difficult for these artists to reach their audience. My experience is usually that when people discover these events and check them out, they enjoy them and are surprised to discover that such things happen quite regularly.”

As private venues are more difficult to sustain, “the universities provide a crucial role in the incubation of innovative artists and in the curation and continuance of our shared musical tradition.” And Adler’s getting busy with his part, through the Sixth Annual SoundON Festival of Modern Music, held June 14–16 at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.

“San Diego New Music [a local nonprofit] began presenting the soundON Festival in 2007,” says Adler, and I was involved both in organizing the festival and as pianist in the ensemble NOISE, which undertakes the majority of performing duties for each festival. The festival format has been wonderful in allowing all of us to program works that are difficult to fit onto regular concert programs…. Multiple concerts in just a few days brings together many more performers, composers, and community members than just one concert could, and so the festival functions also as a great place to find old friends, meet new ones, and get lots of people inspired to undertake new projects.”

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