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John Luther Adams

Become Ocean (2013)
Taiga Press (BMI)
Year Composed
42 Minutes
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Programme Note
John Luther Adams Become Ocean (2013)
Over the years my orchestral music has become simpler and more expansive.

Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing (1991-95) contains four different musical textures. In the White Silence (1998) has three. For Lou Harrison (2002) reduces this to just two.

In Dark Waves (2007), I finally got to one. When I first heard that piece I began to wonder if I could sustain a similar sound for a longer span of time. The result is Become Ocean, a meditation on the vast, deep and mysterious tides of existence.

The title is borrowed from a mesostic verse that John Cage wrote in honor of Lou Harrison's birthday. Likening Harrison's music to a river in delta, Cage writes:

LiStening to it
we becOme

Life on this earth first emerged from the sea. And as the polar ice melts and sea level rises, we humans find ourselves facing the prospect that once again we may quite literally become ocean.

John Luther Adams

Preview the score:

  • Ensemble
    Seattle Symphony
    Ludovic Morlot
  • 02 NOV 2019
    Die göttliche Komödie II: Purgatorio, Choreograph: Xin Peng Wang
    Dortmund, Germany
    Dortmunder Philharmoniker
    Philipp Armbruster, conductor

    Other Dates:
    28,17,15 November; 13 December; 11,25,31 January 2020; 15 February 2020 - Dortmund, Germany
  • 12 DEC 2019
    Become Ocean Country Premiere
    Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway
    Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
    Ludovic Morlot, conductor

    Other Dates:
    13 December - Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway
  • 17 APR 2020
    Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall / San Francisco, CA / USA
    Conservatory Orchestra
    Christopher Rountree, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 April - Mertes Center for the Arts / Livermore, CA / USA

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