Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony bring a pair of programs, and programmatic works by composer John Luther Adams to Cal Performances this weekend. On Saturday night, its the California premiere of the work they gave the World premiere of just last week, Become Desert, and on Sunday afternoon, the piece that won them a grammy, and the composer a Pulitzer Prize, Become Ocean.
There’s more information about the concerts, and related events, at the Cal Performances website.
When Seattle Symphony commissioned the Alaska-based composer several years ago, he was writing a piece for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra called Become River, so Morlot thinks a trilogy was in the back of his mind. They’re all quite different, though he likes to play with how music works across spaces in each. “Become Ocean is really three different groups that are separate,” Morlot says.”Physically distant from one another as much as possible, but on the main stage of the concert hall. They all have their different speeds, and rhythm, I should say ‘wavelength.’ And by the magic of math, and the numbers, once in a while they meet at either the peak of their dynamic, or at the change of a chord. And that creates those moments where the three orchestras kind of meet one another, and create those, what John calls the ‘Tsunami of Sound.’” He physically separates them in the new work. “The adventure with Become Desert is really about not really knowing what sounds come from where. You have brass choruses on the sides of the house, human voices at the top of the hall but at the back. You have strings and winds on the main stage, but the winds are elevated quite a bit above the strings.” Added to that are the sounds of bells, which Morlot says remind him of the gamelan music written by Lou Harrison, Adams’ mentor: “Each of the groups is being enhanced by the sound of bells, but very different bells throughout the hall. So you have orchestra bells, or glockenspiel on the stage, you have crotales with the woodwinds, chimes with the brass, and you have vibraphone or handbells with the chorus.”