Become Ocean
September 21, 2014 8:44 PM   Subscribe

John Luther Adams is a classical composer living in Alaska. His piece Become Ocean won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music. It was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and premiered there in mid-2013. Carnegie Hall hosted that same orchestra for a performance that Alex Ross from The New Yorker called "the loveliest apocalypse in musical history". WXQR has a full recording of that performance available. And now the official recording is being released and NPR has a limited-time preview online for listening. posted by hippybear (19 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
I sing with the Seattle Symphony, and I was kicking myself for missing this show after hearing the buzz. I am RIGHT ON TOP OF that online preview as soon as my kids go to bed and I can put in headphones!
posted by KathrynT at 8:48 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I saw this live, and it was as fantastic as you'd imagine it to be. After a while, the instruments just meld together into a crashing sonic wave.

I'm so happy for the composer!
posted by spinifex23 at 8:52 PM on September 21, 2014

I saw this live and donated to the fundraising campaign for the recording. It was truly awesome.
posted by matildaben at 9:12 PM on September 21, 2014

I'm looking for clarification but not finding it...

When the CD/DVD set is released is the DVD going to be a surround mix? Because if so, that would be totally awesome!
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ah, and yes, I finally found confirmation -- the DVD will be a 5.1 surround mix. I'm totally buying this! (I was already, but that is just icing on the cake!)
posted by hippybear at 10:02 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was at the premier in Seattle too. It was amazing.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:16 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

OK, I listened to the live preview on a pair of semi-decent headphones, and that is a masterpiece. I hope they perform it again soon; I will not miss another performance of this.
posted by KathrynT at 10:39 PM on September 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just listened to the live preview, and its incredible. Thank you so much for posting this.

I went in totally blind, without reading any of the articles or composers notes, and I'm amazed at how well it conveyed what was envisioned. I was struck about a third of the way in, when the brass was prominent in a sort of ominous tone, of the threat to these landscapes. I was unsurprised then to read that the composer was a conservationist. Just, wow.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:50 PM on September 21, 2014

If they perform it again, we should do a meetup around it!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:20 AM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I gave this a listen, and for someone like me with little knowledge of modern classical music it was surprisingly accessible, and a wonderful composition.
posted by Harald74 at 12:36 AM on September 22, 2014

It really is truly beautiful.
posted by Quilford at 1:28 AM on September 22, 2014

I've listened to this piece at least three times all the way through, but I still just don't quite get it. It's beautiful, yeah--it's sonorous and lush and a study in dynamism--but each listen leaves me wanting more than the piece gives up. It's titillating and tempting, but somehow still unsatisfying to me. I read Alex Ross's review before I listened to the music, and "loveliest apocalypse" might have skewed my expectations a little.

I owe it a few more listens. I'm probably missing something.
posted by The Potate at 2:24 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

this is fantastic, and absolutely necessary for me right now. thank you for the post
posted by young_son at 2:33 AM on September 22, 2014

The Pulitzer-prize-winning composer John Luther Adams is not the Pulitzer-prize-winning composer John Adams. (Because I was as confused as I suspect some other people will be.)
posted by ardgedee at 4:05 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

The WQXR link isn't playing for me (Europe here, tried FF, Safari Chroma and mobile...) - any anti-geoblock solutions to this? Thanks!
posted by progosk at 4:22 AM on September 22, 2014

Oh: here it is (at 10:00 into the broadcast) on NPR.
posted by progosk at 5:54 AM on September 22, 2014

The Pulitzer-prize-winning composer John Luther Adams is not the Pulitzer-prize-winning composer John Adams.

Nor is he the second U.S. President John Adams. Or his son, sixth U.S. President John Quincy Adams.

For that matter, he is also not John Adams of the John Adams Band which, despite the John Adams name, is actually a John Denver tribute band.

He is not Guthrie, Oklahoma insurance agent John Adams.

He is also not Minneapolis realtor and Coldwell Banker International Presidents' Elite Club member, John Adams.

We should probably retire the John Adams name at this point. It's just too confusing.
posted by Naberius at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sounds a lot like Brian Eno's ambient stuff. Like Low Symphony with the rhythm taken out.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2014

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