Cows in Berkeley? Well no, but the Alarm Will Sound performance of John Adams' clarinet concerto Gnarly Buttons did have an electronic moo. It also had one of my least favorite instruments, banjo, but this piece is so compelling, I'm even starting to like the banjo accompaniment. Think of this as written by Vivaldi if Vivaldi happened to live in small-town New Hampshire instead of 18th century Italy. Bill Kalinkos was the able clarinet soloist.
The censored SFMike gets it right:
The highlight of the concert was "Gnarly Buttons" with Bill Kalinkos, in the blue shirt, playing the clarinet heroically. It's one of Adams' most charming and deeply felt pieces of music and it gets better on every hearing.
In addition to being jerky and fun, Gnarly Buttons also has a serious side. From the fine program notes by Dennis DeSantis:
...He [Adams] writes of the underlying influences in the work as being two polar extremes in his life with the clarinet: the music he absorbed while growing up--Benny Goodman, Mozart, marching bands--and the experience of watching his father's disintegrating relationship to the instrument he loved, as brought on by Alzheimer's disease.