Released in September 2020 on Cantaloupe Records, The Become Trilogy by John Luther Adams collects for the first time newly remastered versions of Become River, Become Ocean and Become Desert. The Become Trilogy pays tribute to a magical partnership between Adams, conductor Ludovic Morlot and the renowned Seattle Symphony. As a whole, the music speaks both to the meditative solace of solitude, and the universally shared experience of living, giving and interacting as a citizen of the world.
John Luther Adams has been called “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker).
Adams has taught at Harvard University, the Oberlin Conservatory, Bennington College and the University of Alaska. He has been composer in residence with the Anchorage Symphony, Anchorage Opera, Fairbanks Symphony, Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and the Alaska Public Radio Network, and has served as president of the American Music Center.
Born in 1953, Adams grew up in the southeastern U.S. and in the suburbs of New York City. He studied composition with James Tenney and Leonard Stein at the California Institute of the Arts, where he was in the first graduating class (BFA 1973). In the mid 1970s he became active in the campaign for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and subsequently served as executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.
Adams composes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, percussion and electronic media. His music is recorded on Cantaloupe, Cold Blue, New World, Mode and New Albion. Inuksuit, for up to 99 percussionists, is regularly performed all over the world.
About his work, Adams writes: “As a composer it’s my belief that music can contribute to the awakening of our ecological understanding. By deepening our awareness of our connections to the earth, music can provide a sounding model for the renewal of human consciousness and culture.”
When asked about three of his signature orchestral works — the Grammy-winning Become Ocean, its sequel Become Desert, and the original source Become River (previously unreleased as an official recording until now) — composer John Luther Adams refers to them collectively as “a trilogy that I never set out to write.”
Become River, composed for chamber orchestra, was the first of the three, although it began while Adams was working on Become Ocean for the Seattle Symphony. “Steven Schick and I were having dinner together,” Adams recalls, “and I went on at length about the music I’d begun to imagine. ‘So you’re already composing a symphonic ocean,’ Steve said. ‘Maybe for a smaller orchestra you could go ahead and compose that river in delta.’ He had me, and I knew it. Within a week I’d begun work on Become River.”