• John Luther Adams
  • Vespers of the Blessed Earth (2021)

  • Taiga Press (BMI) (World excluding USA)
  • S + SATB; 2(I:pic).2.2(2bcl).2/4.2.0+btbn.0/timp.3perc/pf.hp/str
  • SATB
  • Soprano
  • 49 min
    • 6th June 2024, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom
    • 9th June 2024, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom
    View all

Programme Note

Vespers of the Blessed Earth

Earth, nothing more. Earth, nothing less.
And let that be enough for you.
— Pedro Salinas

Vespers are night prayers. My distant model was the Vespers of Monteverdi. But rather than prayers to the blessed virgin, these are vespers to the blessed earth.

A Brief Descent into Deep Time traverses two-billion years of earth’s history, through the names, colors, and ages of the geologic layers of the Grand Canyon.

A Weeping of Doves is grounded on the calls of the beautiful fruit dove (Ptilinopus pulchellus), native to the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea.

On summer evenings, bright clouds sometimes appear on the horizon, pulsing with color as if illuminated from within. As we pollute the atmosphere more and more, Night-Shining Clouds become more widespread, and as the sun sets on carbon-burning culture, the earth just grows more beautiful.

The text of Litanies of the Sixth Extinction is entirely in Latin, the scientific binomials of 193 critically threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, ending with Homo sapiens.

Aria of the Ghost Bird is my setting of the call of the now-extinct Kauaʻi ʻŌʻō (Moho braccatus), transcribed from a recording of the last male of the species, singing for a mate who would never come.

— John Luther Adams