#3645: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

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John Luther Adams's <em>Become Ocean</em>
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Immerse yourself in John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean, a forty-two-minute piece for large orchestra, on tonight’s New Sounds. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2014, and consists of three huge crescendos, the musical equivalent of three different huge waves, majestically surging and receding. The title comes from lines that John Cage wrote in tribute to the music of Lou Harrison: “Listening to it we become ocean.” There is also the environmental warning implicit in this work, as the composer explains in an NPR interview for the blog Deceptive Cadence: “All life on this Earth emerged from the ocean. If we don't wake up and pay attention [to the melting of polar ice and the rising of the sea levels] pretty soon, we human animals may find ourselves once again becoming ocean sooner than we imagine.”

There is one note at the head of the score: “Inexorable.” It suggests the steady and inevitable pull of this orchestral tour de force, which was a commission from the Seattle Symphony.  Yield to the inviting, relentless, and at times terrifyingly powerful (as in nature) tidal surges of this absolutely gorgeous new work. (Note: although the composer meant for the work to be experienced in 5.1 surround sound so that one can be fully enveloped by the enormous swells, this show is only in stereo.)

PROGRAM #3645, John Luther Adams: Become Ocean (First aired on 10/03/2014)  

ARTIST: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra | Lorin Maazel, conductor
WORK: Debussy: La Mer, excerpt [:30]
RECORDING: Debussy: Jeux, La Mer, Nocturnes / Lorin Maazel, Vienna PO
SOURCE: RCA Victor Red Seal 64616
INFO: Available at Arkiv Music

ARTIST: London Symphony Orchestra | Andre Previn, conductor
WORK: Britten: Peter Grimes -Sea Interludes, excerpt [:30]
RECORDING: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4; Britten: 4 Seas Interludes from 'Peter Grimes'
SOURCE: Angel/EMI 88676
INFO: Available at Arkiv Music

ARTIST: Kirov Orchestra | Valery Gergiev, conductor
WORK: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35 – “The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman,” excerpt [:40]
RECORDING: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade / Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra
SOURCE: Phillips 470840
INFO: Available at Arkiv Music

ARTIST: John Luther Adams | Seattle Symphony| Ludovic Morlot
WORK: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean, Opening, [13:57]
RECORDING: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
SOURCE: Cantaloupe Music CA21101
INFO: cantaloupemusic.com

ARTIST: John Luther Adams | Seattle Symphony| Ludovic Morlot
WORK: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean, Middle, excerpt [13:52]
RECORDING: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
SOURCE: Cantaloupe Music CA21101
INFO: cantaloupemusic.com

ARTIST: John Luther Adams | Seattle Symphony| Ludovic Morlot
WORK: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean, Conclusion [14:10]
RECORDING: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean
SOURCE: Cantaloupe Music CA21101
INFO: cantaloupemusic.com