Tag Archives: john luther adams

Under the Ice

As in 2016, we close our 2017 navigations with a few words that bear repeating, offered by composer John Luther Adams in his 2003 essay, Global Warming and Art. Emphasis in bold added by DP.

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What does global climate change mean for art? What is the value of art in a world on the verge of melting?

An Orkney Island fiddler once observed: “Art must be of use.” By counterpoint, John Cage said: “Only what one person alone understands helps all of us.”

Is art an esoteric luxury? Do the dreams and visions of art still matter?

An artist lives between two worlds – the world we inhabit and the world we imagine. Like surgeons or teachers, carpenters or truck drivers, artists are both workers and citizens. As citizens, we can vote. We can write letters to our elected officials and to the editors of our newspapers. We can speak out. We can run for office. We can march in demonstrations. We can pray.

Ultimately though, the best thing artists can do is to create art: to compose, to paint, to write, to dance, to sing. Art is our first obligation to ourselves and our children, to our communities and our world. Art is our work. An essential part of that work is to see new visions and to give voice to new truths.

 

IN A WORLD ON THE VERGE OF MELTING

 

Art is not self-indulgence. It is not an aesthetic or an intellectual pursuit. Art is a spiritual aspiration and discipline. It is an act of faith. In the midst of the darkness that seems to be descending all around us, art is a vital testament to the best qualities of the human spirit. As it has throughout history, art expresses our belief that there will be a future for humanity. It gives voice and substance to hope. Our courage for the present and our hope for the future lie in that place in the human spirit that finds solace and renewal in art.

Art embraces beauty. But beauty is not the object of art, it’s merely a by-product. The object of art is truth. That which is true is that which is whole. In a time when human consciousness has become dangerously fragmented, art helps us recover wholeness. In a world devoted to material wealth, art connects us to the qualitative and the immaterial. In a world addicted to consumption and power, art celebrates emptiness and surrender. In a world accelerating to greater and greater speed, art reminds us of the timeless.

In the presence of war, terrorism and looming environmental disaster, artists can no longer afford the facile games of post-modernist irony. We may choose to speak directly to world events or we may work at some distance removed from them. But whatever our subject, whatever our medium, artists must commit ourselves to the discipline of art with the depth of our being. To be worthy of a life’s devotion, art must be our best gift to a troubled world. 

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And finally, a link to Adams’ composition, Under the Ice:

 

Onwards to 2018……


Between Two Worlds

We close our DP journey for 2016 with a few words from John Luther Adams, followed by a link to his exquisite composition, The Light That Fills the World.

With thanks to our readers from around the world, whose engaged and enlightening missives in response to our humble offerings bring ample light to our world, as we seek to find a voice for new truths.

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THE LIGHT THAT FILLS THE WORLD


Strange and Sacred Noise

Now comes composer John Luther Adams (not to be confused with the John Adams of Shaker Loops, etc.), with two selections from his extraordinary strange and sacred noise.

We have long admired Adams’ compositions, that draw inspiration from the rhythms and resonances within the natural world. In his notes for the composition, he writes:

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STRANGE AND SACRED NOISE         PART I

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STRANGE AND SACRED NOISE PART IV

STRANGE AND SACRED NOISE         PART IV

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In an interview elsewhere, Adams states:

My work is not activism. It is art. As an artist, my primary responsibility must be to my art as art—and yet, it’s impossible for me to regard my life as a composer as separate from my life as a thinking human being and a citizen of the earth. Our survival as a species depends on a fundamental change of our way of being in the world. If my music can inspire people to listen more deeply to this miraculous world we inhabit, then I will have done what I can as a composer to help us navigate this perilous era of our own creation.

For me, it all begins with listening.