Commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Premiered August 11th, 2018. New York City. Conductor; Simon Halsey.

  • 24 voices in four choirs
  • 44 min 30 s

Programme Note

In the Name of the Earth is a celebration of this beautiful planet earth - the only home we will ever know - where the only real borders are watersheds and coastlines.

The work is scored for massed voices, performing out of doors. The texts of In the Name of the Earth are litanies of names - the names of mountain peaks and ranges, rivers and glaciers, forests and plains and deserts - sung in languages from all over the earth.

This is a perilous moment in the history of our species. Lost and wandering on the edge of our own extinction, we need new maps to help us find our way. In this spirit, In the Name of the Earth proposes a kind of musical mapmaking and path finding.

As the geographer Denis Wood observes, maps are not objective representations. They are propositions. Historically, maps evolved in conjunction with the rise of the nation state. Maps are tools that we humans use to diminish and control the land and its inhabitants. Throughout history, people have used maps to prosecute wars against one another and against the earth. But maps can also help us understand more deeply the places we inhabit. And if we better understand where we are, we may better understand who we are, and how best to live.

By singing some of the beautifully resonant names that we give to mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans, I hope to draw music not only from my own imagination, but also more directly from the world.

The title is a conscious reference to Christian liturgy. But in place of the father, the son and the holy ghost, I want to invoke the roots of my own faith, in the earth, the waters, and the holy wind.

John Luther Adams


In the Name of the Earth performed at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York City, 2018 (360°)
12:51 / 19:31 Selections from 'In the Name of the Earth' live at St John the Divine, New York City, 2018