Become Desert, the highly-anticipated final work in the 'Become' trilogy by John Luther Adams, will receive its world premiere next week at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. The Seattle Symphony and Seattle Symphony Chorale, conducted by Ludovic Morlot, will perform the work on March 29 and 31 before travelling to UC Berkeley for a repeat performance on April 7. The following evening, on April 8, they will revisit the Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winning second work in the trilogy, Become Ocean.
Become Desert is commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, with co-commissions from the San Diego Symphony and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. There are territory premieres available for Become Desert and other works in his catalogue. Contact us for further information.
Notes from JLA
‘At forty minutes, Become Desert is the same length as Become Ocean. But this new work encompasses an even larger musical space. In Become Ocean we’re out on the water, riding the tides and the musical waves as they rise and fall. In Become Desert we’re immersed, not in water but in stillness, space, and light.
Most of us these days live lives in which we’re trying to hear less, retreating into our own private aural caves. In the desert we are challenged to open our ears again, to come out of our caves and listen to the never-ending music all around us.
My music is all about the physical, sensuous space of the world we inhabit. Become Desert is an invitation to listen more deeply and expansively, to reflect and to remember our place on this beautiful blue stone spinning in space.
I look forward to seeing old friends and new, in Seattle and Berkeley.’
Read JLA’s essay reflecting on the sonic lessons of the desert
John Luther Adams is a composer whose life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world. Adams was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his symphonic work Become Ocean, as well as a Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" (2014). Inuksuit, his outdoor work for up to 99 percussionists, is regularly performed all over the world.
Columbia University has honoured Adams with the William Schuman Award ‘to recognise the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance.’ A recipient of the Heinz Award for his contributions to raising environmental awareness, JLA has also been honoured with the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University ‘for melding the physical and musical worlds into a unique artistic vision that transcends stylistic boundaries.’
Born in 1953, JLA grew up in the South and in the suburbs of New York City. He studied composition with James Tenney at the California Institute of the Arts, where he was in the first graduating class (in 1973). In the mid-1970s he became active in the campaign for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and subsequently served as executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. Adams has taught at Harvard University, the Oberlin Conservatory, Bennington College, and the University of Alaska. He has also served as Composer in Residence with the Anchorage Symphony, Anchorage Opera, Fairbanks Symphony, Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and the Alaska Public Radio Network.
The music of John Luther Adams is recorded on Cantaloupe, Cold Blue, New World, Mode, and New Albion, and his books are published by Wesleyan University Press.
Photo credit: John Luther Adams