Seattle Symphony Plays the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

« previous episode | next episode »

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Ludovic Morlot Ludovic Morlot (Chris Lee)

Join us at 7:30 pm for the second broadcast of the 2014 Spring for Music festival, in which the Seattle Symphony presents a French-American program, led by French-born music director Ludovic Morlot.

The program begins with the 2014 recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean. Commissioned by Seattle Symphony and premiered last June, the haunting work carries a cautionary message about the impact of climate change. According to the Pulitzer committee, the piece "suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels.”

The program's ecological theme continues with Edgard Varèse's Déserts (Deserts) and Claude Debussy's La Mer.


Seattle Symphony
Ludovic Morlot, Music Director

  • JOHN LUTHER ADAMS Become Ocean (NY Premiere)
  • VARÈSE Déserts
  • DEBUSSY La mer

We asked you to share your thoughts during the concert in NPR's live chat or on Twitter using the hashtag #S4M. Below is a collection of your chat comments, tweets and photos.

Online Exclusives:

John Luther Adams discusses winning the Pulitzer and his longstanding interest in environmentalism:


Conductor Ludovic Morlot talks about the program:


Comments [4]

Louis from Staten Island

Sorry to be the spoiler among the raves for John Adams's "Become Ocean", but it's hard to fathom that a work based on the dogged persistence of a monotonous sonority can acquire Pulitzer Prize status, let along get a performance in a major concert hall. Attitude and sound effect don't quite substitute for musical substance, and they sure haven't in this unbearable bleary-eyed score. But I suppose concept and unswerving audacity count for more than anything in the questionable aesthetics of New-Romanticism.

Aside from the occasional blip, Spring For Music remains my favorite musical festival of the year. Hanson's Merry Mount has been the highlight so far.

Staten Island

May. 08 2014 06:18 PM
Max from Miami

Let me tell you, "Become Ocean" is the most boring, clichéd - three orchestras, really?? - pieces of music I have heard in years. If I had not known the title beforehand, an ocean or water would never have come to mind. It is one long uninteresting drone, on Gb, then Eb and finally Db that gets louder, then softer, then louder again, on and on for 42 excruciating minutes, and just when you think it will end, it starts up again. There is nothing of interest to listen to.
And as for the Pulitzer Price, junk music has won the Pulitzer for decades and "Become Ocean" can be added to the list. It is worthless.

May. 08 2014 01:55 PM
Grant Fjermedal from Seattle

"Become Ocean" is such an enchanting voyage. Listened to it in Seattle with chair tilted back, feet up, and dog Sparky in my lap. Music seemed to flow from ocean, to mind, to the infinity of space.

Fitting that the Seattle Symphony premiered the work, as the water is all around us out here. A few years ago I rowed my dinghy from my anchored sailboat over to the sailboat of one of SSO's first violinists and had an enjoyable beer aboard his boat in Poulsbo harbor, talking music and such on a July 3rd. He lives on his boat, and I like to think that he and other musicians in SSO have first-hand knowledge of what the flow of water is all about.

Plan to purchase "Become Ocean" when it is released to play while sailing. Mischievous side of me is thinking that when my friends ask about the music, I'll say, "That's just the sound a boat makes when perfectly balanced between wind and water."

Hooray for John Luther Adams! Hooray for SSO!

- Grant Fjermedal

May. 07 2014 01:09 AM
Dennis from Seattle

Magnificent piece of music! The music invokes such tremendous emotions and thoughts it's almost beyond description. The SSO sounds incredible in Carnegie Hall! The entire SSO made us very proud! Thanks so much for sharing this broadcast live to all of your SSO supports and enthusiast! Have a Safe Return Trip Home! 15 Year SSO supporters and Lovers of the SSO!
Dennis & Christeen

May. 06 2014 08:15 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.