Commissioned by Music Nova for the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
"Together, the orchestra and the electronics evoke a vast rolling sea. Waves of Perfect Fifths rise and fall, in tempo relationships of 3, 5 and 7. At the central moment, these waves crest together in a tsunami of sound encompassing all twelve chromatic tones and the full range of the orchestra."
for Lou Harrison
for string quartet, two pianos and strings (minimum 2-2-2-1).
"It opened with a riveting gesture, in which all the instruments swept upward through their full ranges in huge, lush arpeggios at different tempos, settling at last into a calm chord. That gesture came back again and again and again, initiating each new phrase of the piece. For an hour several rhythmic levels flowed in contradiction to each other, the string quartet launching into a new crescendo while the orchestra was still, the pianos booming into new arpeggios as the string quartet was still, some lines doubled in unison but otherwise hardly any two levels of activity ever at the same speed... At last the rhythmic levels dropped out one by one, and the piece died away with a radiant pp chord in the orchestral violins."
- Kyle Gann, PostClassic
The Light That Fills the World
for orchestra - (picc, 2 flts, 3 obs, 3 clnts,
2bsns, contrabsn, 4 hns, 2 tpts, 2 tbns, tba,
timp, susp cymb, vibr, mar, strings).
"...Adams... likes to explore a single sonic and find the teeming life inside... this 12-minute piece of shifting, crackling timbres had a burning intensity."
- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
"...a mesmerizing Transcendentalist tone poem that shimmers with myriad orchestral colors... Adams suspends motion without putting his audience to sleep. Hearing this piece was not unlike pondering a Byzantine icon, focusing on gorgeous details while still appreciating the mystery of the whole."
- Kenneth Herman, San Diego Arts
"...a fascinatingly primal work..."
- Valerie Scher, sandiego.com
"John Luther Adams, in his The Light That Fills the World, keeps all the orchestra in play, sections changing chords in nonsynchronous patterns for an always-shifting color formula. Everyone contributes to the group energy, no one counts rests, and every role is more or less equivalent."
- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice
In the White Silence (1998)
for celesta, harp, string quartet, 2 vibraphones,
and string quintet or orchestra.
"... the music moves across its vast duration with an untroubled serenity. Shifting clusters in the vibratoless string orchestra form the cushion over which the trio and the quartet solo. The trio plays arpeggiated figures that evoke bells of various sorts. The string quartet has virtually all the melodies in the work, which are inevitably slow moving and somewhat yearningly lovely..."
- John Story, Fanfare
"... a highly intellectual and deeply sensual work... The mix of beauty and brutality correctly reflects the northern landscape the work depicts... the aching tension, unease and sense of danger that laces through its sonorities."
- Mike Dunham, Anchorage Daily News
"Although profoundly inspired and awed by nature, Adams' music transcends the objective presence of place and time."
"...a ruminative tapestry of arresting beauty...
a vast space filled with shimmering textures and
Allan Ulrich, The San Francisco Examiner
"...hypnotic, mesmerizing. You felt as if should
you have to move, you'd best do it in slow motion, so as
to not break the fragile bubble surrounding you. Shift
languidly, as if under water, so that you do not risk
disturbing the surface while you listen to eerie clang
and muffled beat of water slapping at boats moored...
Sauyatugvik: The Time of
for orchestra (picc, 2 flts, 3 obs, 3 clnts, 2
bsns, cbsn, 4 hns, 3 tpts, 2 tbns, bass tbn, tba,
timp, 4 perc, 2 pnos, strings).
Commissioned by the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.
"The Time of Drumming demands that an
entire orchestra pound the sound into the back wall
of the hall... For inspiration, Adams turned to the
Yup'ik drumming he has admired since moving to
Alaska twenty years ago, and cross-fertilized it
with the brute orchestral force of Stravinsky's
'Rite of Spring'".
- Mike Dunham, Anchorage Daily News
"engrossing and irresistible"
- Daniel Cariaga, The Los Angeles Times
Dream in White On
string quartet, harp (or piano) and strings