A few weeks ago, I was lucky to visit Alaska with my family. For me, the state conjures images of from monumental landscapes (pictured above), rugged residents, and majestic totem poles. But Alaska also means the composer John Luther Adams, whom I was extremely privileged to work with last year. Take a listen to Dark Waves (2007), one of his more extraordinary pieces:
JLA and his music are bound more tightly to the environment than that of any other composer I know. He spent decades as an environmental activist in Alaska, and his ecological awareness shines through his work. Of his Pulitzer Prize-winning piece Become Ocean (2013), he writes “Life on this earth first emerged from the sea. As the polar ice melts and sea level rises, we humans find ourselves facing the prospect that once again we may quite literally become ocean.”
A full performance of that piece, which Alex Ross says “may be the loveliest apocalypse in musical history”, can be found here as part of the Seattle Symphony's performance during Spring for Music.