On-Demand Audio: John Luther Adams's Become Ocean Live at Carnegie Hall

The New York Premiere of 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music-winning 'Become Ocean'

This audio will be archived on this page for one year

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The composer John Luther Adams, whose music is often inspired by the natural world, accepts the enthusiastic applause from the Carnegie Hall audience (Melanie Burford for NPR Music)

Listen above to the New York premiere of composer John Luther Adams's Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean as performed by the Seattle Symphony at Carnegie Hall May 6. For a communal listening experience, Q2 Music will stream the work Friday, May 9 at 3 pm. 

The performance is part of Spring for Music – a festival of North American orchestras and adventurous programming – and, like all of the previous and upcoming concerts is broadcast and archived for on-demand listening by WQXR.

Become Ocean was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and conductor Ludovic Morlot and premiered in Seattle in June 2013. As the program notes point out, the music "takes the form of waves of sound, both large and small." The orchestra is divided into three smaller ensembles that perform at independent tempos to create separate crests and troughs that occasionally come together into crashing climaxes. The result is an immersive sonic environment that, like so much of Adams's music, powerfully reflects the unrelenting, awe-inspiring and savage power of Nature.

As the composer writes: "My hope is that the music creates a strange, beautiful, overwhelming – sometimes even frightening – landscape, and invites you to get lost in it."

Comments [7]

Helen from Bellingham WA

Yes, this music is a wonderful evocation of the sea. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

I wonder what it was like for the Seattle musicians to play this? Difficult? Entrancing?

Dec. 01 2014 11:28 PM

Very Enoesque.

Nov. 08 2014 10:49 PM
EB from Near Eighty Four, PA

Thanks so much for posting this piece for streaming, I just recently heard about this music and composer from another podcast and I am grateful I could hear this performance. This type of music reminds me of Philip Glass and I know it is not everyone's cup of tea but it is well worth exploring and experiencing. Hearing it live at Carnegie Hall must have been thrilling, and hearing the stream was very rewarding, so thanks again.

Oct. 16 2014 10:30 AM
Shelly Rios from Corpus Christi TX

I stayed in my car in the driveway not wanting to turn it off after listening to the NPR piece on this. I'm so glad I found the piece in its entirety here. Thank you for posting. It's so warmly organic and powerful, just like the tides of our oceans.

Oct. 03 2014 12:48 PM
Michael Nickel from Peru

Thanks for posting this beautiful piece of music. I have been waiting to hear it since the news of Mr. Adam's Pulitzer prize. It certainly has been worth the wait!

Aug. 11 2014 01:49 PM
Diane Armitage from Santa Fe, New Mexico

Yes-- I feel overwhelmed hearing this music-- like listening to the shrinking and the swelling of the tides-- like having the push and pull of one's own personal history reveal itself in an aural landscape. All the losses and all the awe inspiring moments are there. I can only hope that someday I can be in the immersive environment of hearing it live. This music produces an oceanic state where one is alternately drowned and resurrected.

Thank you so much for posting this composition. I read about this performance of Adams' piece in The New Yorker and Alex Ross, notoriously hard to please, felt as inundated with emotion as I do.

Jul. 27 2014 09:38 PM
jackie from McLean Virginia

I am addicted to this piece, this is the sixth time I have given it a listen. Could be another Pulitzer.......

May. 20 2014 11:54 AM

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