(special to the ICO from our arts correspondent)
Los Angeles, CA, December 6, 2009
Just moments before he was to go onstage to conduct his final concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, composer-conductor John Adams became the victim or a brazen act of intellectual property theft.
While the orchestra and soloist Leila Josefowicz waited onstage of Disney Hall to perform Adams’ concerto for electric violin, “The Dharma at Big Sur,” the composer discovered that felons working under the alias “Airborne Toxic Event” had bypassed the hall’s normally tight security and gained entry to the backstage area.
Once inside the group vandalized Mr. Adams’ dressing room and made off with his ritual “dharma pants” (see photo above), special apparel that the composer wears only for performances of his concerto.
The same Airborne Toxic Event had earlier in the week crashed a party at the White House given by President Barack Obama and his wife. On that occasion the thieves were unable to separate the President from his pants, succeeding only in escaping with a set of ceremonial Christmas drink coasters dating from the Carter administration.
When the theft of Adams’ “dharma pants” was made known, one of the Philharmonic’s violists, Bagwam Shree Rajsneesh Jr., generously offered Mr. Adams the use of his emergency spare dhoti.
“I keep it in my case along with extra strings and a picture of my kids, said the violist. You never know what might happen during a concert.”
Adams, however, respectfully declined Mr. Rajsneesh’s offer, opting instead for a quicker alternative, a pair of Acton Protecto Hip Waders offered to him by a member of the stage crew. Click here for surveillance camera footage of frantic dressing room activity in wake of theft.
FAA police later in the day apprehended The Airborne Toxic Event thieves as they stepped off the plane and crossed over Austin city limits.
Mr. Adams will be reunited with his pants later in the week when he arrives in New York to conduct his Nativity oratorio, El Niño at Carnegie Hall next Sunday.
“Happiness is overrated,” said the composer, but a good pair of dharma pants is serious bliss.
El Niño, by the way, is one of my favorite pieces of music ever - so if you're in New York, go out of your way to see the living composer conduct it! Thanks to Mrs Bonnie Whiting Smith for the tip on this story.