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John Luther Adams

Dream in White on White (1992)
Taiga Press (BMI)
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
17 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
string quartet
Programme Note
John Luther Adams Dream in White on White (1992)
The treeless, windswept landscapes of Western Alaska have long made a powerful impression on me. For much of the year this is a place of seemingly endless, pristine whiteness. In spring, with the return of the sun, the presence of this country is especially overwhelming.

Dream In White On White is a musical response to these landscapes and to the non-chromatic ("white") tones and acoustically-perfect intervals of Pythagorean diatonic tuning.

There are other "white" associations as well. The sounds are predominantly long, broad washes of whole and half notes - "white notes" of a different sort. The scoring - with predominant harmonics, unstopped tones, mutes and no vibrato - creates peculiarly "white" tonal hues. And the title is distantly related to Kasimir Malevich's suprematist canvas, White On White.

John Luther Adams

Preview the score:

  • Ensemble
    The Atlanta Singers and The Cabrillo Festival Orchestra
    Barbara Chapman, Harp; Nella Rigel, Harp; Michael Cebulski, Percussion; Cheryl Bray Lower, Soprano
    JoAnn Falletta and Kevin Culver
    New Albion:
  • 30 JUL 2016
    Chautauqua, New York, United States of America
    Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra with the Music School Festival Orchestra
    Rossen Milanov, conductor

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