Awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean was commissioned and premiered by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Ludovic Morlot in June 2013. In May 2014 the orchestra and Morlot took Become Ocean to Carnegie Hall for the annual Spring for Music festival.
Become Ocean is a 45-minute-long work for full orchestra. Adams borrowed the title from a verse by composer John Cage, written in honor of fellow composer Lou Harrison’s birthday. Describing Harrison’s music, Cage wrote, “Listening to it / we become / ocean.” A visionary whose life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world, Adams inscribed the following statement on the score of Become Ocean, “Life onRead more 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.”
R E V I E W:
With their first collaboration, Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and composer John Luther Adams have struck gold. Become Ocean, Morlot's first large-scale commission as music director of the SSO, is a symphonic work that feels even vaster than its forty-two-minute span. By dividing the large ensemble into three interlocking orchestras, Adams created a score that works on multiple levels: it's an abstract sonic experience at one extreme and, at the other, an evocation of nature and its irresistible force.
Become Oceanby John Luther Adams Conductor:
Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: 21st Century Written: 2013; US
Average Customer Review: ( 4 Customer Reviews )
Modern MasterpieceDecember 15, 2018By Scott Freije (Los Angeles, CA)See All My Reviews"What an incredible composition by John Luther Adams. Believe the hype, this won the Pulitzer, a Grammy, and rave reviews from classical music aficionados and a wider audience. Become Ocean is an instant classic and one of the greatest pieces of orchestral music of our time. A single movement over 40 minutes in length, this is a large scale work evoking the majestic power of the natural world. Similar to other leading American composers, John Adams, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass, John Luther Adams mixes minimalism with impressionism reminiscent of Debussy and Ravel. The composer offers some insight with this note in the score, 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. The sustained meditative tone transports the listening into another world. The effect is hypnotic, I was fortunate enough to hear Morlot conduct the LA Philharmonic in an unforgettable performance at the Disney Hall. Morlot has built up the Seattle Symphony into one of the best in the country, their recent recordings of predominately French repertoire from composers such as Dutilleux, Faure, and Ravel are worth seeking out. They play with a real sense of occasion with wonderful orchestral blend and their French focus imbues the work with plenty of atmosphere and refinement. This is their first large scale commission and what an inspired success it is with Alaskan composer John Luther Adams creating a brilliant new piece that gives hope for the future of classical music."Report Abuse
One to AvoidNovember 5, 2017By G. Brown (River Edge, NJ)See All My Reviews"I suffered listening to this work to the end of the recording, hoping it would eventually develop into a composition of substance and interest. It did not. I love contemporary classical music, but this is one to avoid."Report Abuse
Epic Sound CompositionFebruary 8, 2015By Jay Singer (Pepper Pike, OH)See All My Reviews"This is a 42 minute wash of ebbing and flowing orchestral sound intended for 5.1 systems that can play DVD-audio. The recording includes a stereo CD and surround sound DVD. In his interview (on the Cantaloupe website) Adams explains his intention to have three orchestras playing simultaneously and occasionally together. I wouldn't call this minimalist music like Reich or Glass but it does have a surface, static quality that somehow reminds me of Monet's Waterlilies paintings. In the johnlutheradams.com website you can get a glimpse at the repetitive parts the musicians play; the harpist, in particular has a continuous role to perform. Welcome to the 21st Century! Music lives!"Report Abuse