Ansel Adams images take spotlight at Scottsdale Arts’ benefit

The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942. Photograph by Ansel Adams. Collection Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona. ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.

The photographic genius of Ansel Adams paired with a commissioned symphonic work composed by Chris Brubeck and his late father, jazz legend Dave Brubeck, highlight Scottsdale Arts’ annual ARTrageous Benefit Gala on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Proceeds benefit Scottsdale Arts Education and Outreach.

“Ansel Adams: America” showcases more than 100 floor-to-ceiling projected images by the celebrated photographer accompanied by a full-orchestra performance of the special composition under the baton of Maestro Peter Jaffe.

The 22-minute, one-movement piece “is a symphonic tribute saluting one of America’s most cherished artists that fully integrates sweeping melodies with 102 striking images of or by Ansel,” Chris Brubeck writes. He notes that few people realize that Adams trained to be a classical concert pianist, which greatly influenced his photography.

“The merging of music and photography made perfect sense when we discovered that Ansel Adams was well on his way to becoming a serious concert pianist until he was seduced by the beauty of Yosemite and succumbed to the lure of photography,” according to Mr. Brubeck.

“He was an artist and thinker whose experiences were as monumental as El Capitan. Growing up in San Francisco, Adams experienced a variety of historic events that would influence his art.”

These included the Great Earthquake of 1906, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 (which his father required him to go every day for a year as part of his home schooling) and construction of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.

Dave Brubeck grew up as a cowboy in the California foothills near Stockton, the son of a cowboy and a classical pianist. Chris Brubeck enticed his father to join him in composing the special piece in part by pointing out that Adams and his father both felt the “artistic influences of a booming San Francisco,” adding that changes in the mid-20th century influenced the art forms of both men.

The result of the father-son collaboration, Chris Brubeck says, is a composition, “full of many wonderful themes and ideas which we expanded and polished together,” that corresponds to exact images to be shown throughout the performance of the score.

Also on the program: Violin soloist Nick Kendall will be featured in another work by Chris Brubeck, “Spontaneous Combustion,” which was composed specifically for him.

Gala honorary chairs are Billie Jo and Judd Herberger.

For ticket information, visit

The gala begins at 5 p.m. with registration, cocktails and a silent auction. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m.

The gala will be held at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St. in downtown Scottsdale. Free parking is available in the public parking garage located to the west of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Wells Fargo Avenue.

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