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John Luther Adams

In a Treeless Place, Only Snow (1999)
Taiga Press (BMI)
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Programme Note
John Luther Adams In a Treeless Place, Only Snow (1999)
White is not the absence of colour. It is the fullness of light.

Silence is not the absence of sound. It is the presence of stillness.

As the Inuit have known for centuries, and as painters from Malevich to Ryman have shown us more recently, whiteness embraces many hues, textures and nuances.

As John Cage reminded us, silence does not literally exist. Still, in a worlds going deaf with human noise, silence endures as a deep and resonant metaphor.

In his Poetics of Music, Stravinsky speaks of music as a form of philosophical speculation. But music can also be a form of contemplation: the sensual reaching for the spiritual.

I aspire to music which is both rigorous in thought and sensuous in sound.

For many years now, I've worked with an ideal of "sonic geography" - music as place, and place as music. The treeless, windswept expanses of the Arctic are enduring creative touchstones for my work, and In A Treeless Place is an attempt to evoke an enveloping musical presence equivalent to that of a vast tundra landscape.

But I want to go beyond landscape painting with tones, beyond language, metaphor and the extra-musical image.

I no longer want to be outside the music, listening to it as an object apart., I want to inhabit the music, to be fully present and listening in that immeasurable space which Malevich called "a desert of pure feeling".

John Luther Adams

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