Review: John Luther Adams’ “Become Desert” in world premiere by Seattle Symphony

Posted on: April 2, 2018

“It’s a rare concert when a major work of Beethoven gets upstaged. Rarer still when the music responsible for the upstaging is brand new,” writes Thomas May in Friday’s (3/30) Seattle Times. “Add that feat to John Luther Adams’ list of accomplishments. Last night’s world premiere of his latest composition, ‘Become Desert,’ immersed those who were fortunate to be present in an environment of ego-erasing, sensitivity-enhancing musical images. Performed with Zen-like concentration by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Chorale under Ludovic Morlot, ‘Become Desert’ rebooted fundamental assumptions about what the concert experience can offer. ‘Become Desert’ follows on Adams’ first major project for Seattle Symphony, ‘Become Ocean.’ … ‘For ‘Become Desert,’ Adams divides his forces into five sections … adding the human voice to his palette in the form of a mixed choir of 32 voices.… While the strings and woodwinds … remain onstage, the other [sections] are dispersed around the hall, surrounding the audience in a sonic envelope.… ‘Become Desert’ is … a profoundly original creation that puts the listener right inside the music as it unfolds.” Also on the program was Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, with soloist Jeremy Denk.

Posted April 2, 2018

Composer John Luther Adams with Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at the world premiere of Adams’ “Become Desert.” Photo by Brandon Patoc